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Sarcasm – Who the hell needs it anyway?

A computer algorithm capable of identifying sarcasm in written text has been developed by Israeli researchers. The novel formula could pave the way for more sophisticated communication between humans and computers – the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence.

Devised by computer scientists at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the algorithm has been programmed to recognise sarcasm in lengthy texts by analysing patterns of phrases and punctuation often used to indicate irony.

In tests on 66,000 product reviews posted on the Amazon shopping website, the algorithm had an impressive 77 per cent success rate in picking out sarcastic comments – arguably higher than some humans. The researchers “trained” the algorithm to recognise sarcasm by teaching it nearly 5,500 sentences from Amazon reviews that human volunteers had marked as either sarcastic or non-sarcastic.

The sarcastic phrases from the pool of Amazon reviews used for the research included “Great for insomniacs”, “Are these iPods designed to die after two years?” and “Defective by design”. From its learned list of sarcastic phrases, the algorithm was taught to recognise patterns of words commonly used by writers to show that they do not mean to be taken literally.

You can read all of the science here. Pdf document warning.

via Arbroath