Most of us had no time for April Fools’ Day jokes this year, maybe because something about a global pandemic takes the joy out of stuff like pretending a raccoon got into the house or putting plastic wrap over the toilet seat. Still, a few public figures tried to prank the world by revealing they were just joking about firing long-time creative collaborators or, uh, goofing on their fans by saying they’d contracted coronavirus.
With this kind of precedent set, any other kind of April Fools’ joke is going to look good by contrast—even if they’re dreamed up by the alien intelligence of notoriously unfunny computer brains.
Janelle Shane, whose work with artificial intelligence-enabled humor we’ve written about before, tweeted out an image and article showing some of what resulted from her feeding “a short list of pranks” to a neural net called GPT-2 and asking “it to add to the list.”
Noting that AIs “tend to get the rhythm and vocabulary [of a joke] correct, yet completely miss the point,” Shane unveiled nine exciting new pranks that she says may also be suitable as “performance art” or the basis of “new hobbies.” Though it’s a day too late, you may still be interested in trying out some of the AI’s most intriguing pranks, like, say, really blowing people’s minds by “[painting] the fridge with the red spiders,” “[gluing] toothpicks to the tops of grapes,” or “[putting] a large colorfully wrapped strip of spaghetti in your hot water bath” before “[putting] some dill pickles in there as well.”
It would be understandable if Shane’s followers decided these jokes were too difficult to pull off, but some of them rose to the challenge, tweeting out examples of themselves drawing “a heart on the egg carton,” painting their fridges with “the red spiders,” and throwing pickles and pasta into a “hot water bath.”
With us humans too preoccupied with our fallible fleshy bodies and non-optimized social systems to bother with April Fools’ this year, these pranks will have to do. Just don’t buy up all the toilet paper to make toast or wad up in the fridge; that stuff’s far too precious to be used on jokes.
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