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Web Site at U. of California at Berkeley Tailors Jokes to Individual Tastes

What one person finds funny, another might find bland, even offensive. With that in mind, Ken Goldberg, an engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and Tavi Nathanson, a Berkeley computer-science student, have created Jester 4.0, a Web site that claims to reliably tickle users’ funny bones. Here’s how it works: a visitor goes to Jester and rates eight jokes on a scale of “less funny” to “more funny.” A computer algorithm—which Berkeley patented in 2003—then uses the data to determine which jokes will most appeal to the user. Jester forwards these jokes to the user.

When I visit the site I’m first asked to rate this joke:
Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: That’s not funny.

According to a February article in the Berkeleyan, entrepreneurs are interested in making the site commercial.—Andrea L. Foster

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