The idea of being able to teach an AI robot how to do things that are a little less ‘textbook’ is something that has eluded scientists for years. By this, we mean that it’s often very difficult to teach a robot the kind of intuitive things that only humans really tend to feel or understand on a subliminal level. However, researchers in Hamburg, Germany have started to close this gap. Developers at HCM Labs in Hamburg have created ‘Irony Man’ – a robot that understands and reacts to sarcasm! Unbelievably, it seems as though trying to get a robot to sass you like a teenager was a feat well-worth achieving!
The little robot, standing at just under one foot tall, can both detect and communicate irony with pretty good accuracy. Dr. Elisabeth André of Augsburg University has explained why the researchers felt it was necessary to try and teach a robot how to understand irony. “In human-human conversation, irony occurs in a natural manner. Irony may help create a more pleasant atmosphere by conveying critical information, such as complaints, in a less direct manner.” Basically, in the strive to help create more realistic robots and AI in the future, training robots to understand the wide palate of subtle emotional cues that humans use to communicate between words, tone, and facial expression is important.
While ‘Irony Man’ is still a lot further from other more advanced robots like ‘Sophia,’ an AI that can copy and replicate life-like human facial expressions, the fact is that the data gathered by analyzing a wider scope of human irony and sarcasm in everyday life will help to progress the integration between humans and robots or AIs in the near future. Pretty soon, we might even find ourselves attending robot comedy clubs! Who knows – the sky truly is the limit these days!