AI is a joke

The genre of post that echoes an interaction with ChatGPT is stale and tedious. As Tom Scott comments, “Telling someone about your fascinating AI conversation is like telling someone about your dreams. They don’t care, it just sounds like you’re hallucinating nonsense.” I swore back in December that I wouldn’t make another post like that, but this one has jokes.

I recently saw a post of someone who told ChatGPT the joke, “Why is six afraid of seven?” The bot correctly answered “789” but, when asked to explain the joke, said that it was wordplay that relied on the fact that 6 sounds like afraid. I couldn’t replicate that exchange. When I asked, it said that seven ate nine.

What about other, more obscure jokes? Here’s one that I learned from Ryan Hickerson back in grad school:

me: Joke: According to Freud, what comes between fear and sex?

ChatGPT: According to Freud, what comes between fear and sex is “fünf”. (German for “five”, which sounds like “funf” and is a play on words)

me: Explain your answer.

ChatGPT: I apologize for the confusion in my previous response. The correct answer to the joke is “fünf” (pronounced “foonf” in German), which is a play on words with the English word “five” and sounds like “fun” in English. The joke is a pun that pokes fun at Sigmund Freud’s theories on the human psyche, as there is no logical or psychological connection between the words “fear,” “sex,” and “five.”

It gets the right answer to the joke here, but flubs the explanation. Will it eventually be able to explain the Freud joke, the way it can now explain six’s fear?

It flubs even the answer for a more obscure old joke of mine:

me: Joke: What fruit is most like a pot of giraffe stew?

ChatGPT: Answer: None, because giraffe stew is not typically made with fruit!

Then there was this exchange, in which I improvised a joke. It forgot that there was a joke going on, but when reminded was able to explain it.

me: Knock, knock.

ChatGPT: Who’s there?

me: Doctor.

ChatGPT: Doctor who?

me: I love that show.

ChatGPT: Great to hear that! “Doctor Who” is a popular British TV series that has been running since 1963, and it has a large and dedicated fan base around the world.

me: Explain the joke.

ChatGPT: I apologize, but there was no joke in your previous message. “Doctor Who” is the name of a TV series, and your response simply expressed your fondness for the show.

me: But why did you say “Doctor Who?”

ChatGPT: Ah, I see! I assumed you were setting up a classic “knock-knock” joke, where the first person says “Doctor” and the second person responds with “Doctor who?” to create a play on words with the name of the TV series. But it seems that was not your intention, so I apologize for the confusion.

me: Wait— that was the joke.

ChatGPT: Oh, I see! I apologize for the misunderstanding earlier. In this case, the joke is that the person answering the door responds to the knock-knock joke by saying “Doctor who?” as if they were asking for the identity of the doctor. This is a play on the name of the TV show “Doctor Who,” which features a time-traveling alien known as “The Doctor.” So, the joke is a reference to the show, and it’s a clever twist on the usual knock-knock joke format.

me: I wouldn’t go as far as “clever”.

ChatGPT: I’m sorry to have made that assumption. Humor is subjective, and what may be clever or amusing to one person may not be to another.

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