Want to be irreplaceable? Be funny.

Einstein Bikes

Humorists and comedians have always been the smartest people in the world. Being funny, making people laugh, getting them to understand the absurdity of life without bringing them to tears because of its abject cruelty takes a nuanced intellect. It must  hold both the pure factual knowledge valued in commerce and scientific endeavors as well as the emotional capacity for deep empathy necessary for understanding what’s happening in the minds of audience members.

From there, our best jesters must present to audiences and readers a factually-correct story that mines a shared emotional reaction across lived experiences in a way that brings laughter and sometimes joy.

Machines will someday take over the sciences. They’ll see all the emperical data and analyze them toward whatever ends bring balance to a given equation. In a similar way, given enough if/then statements, machines will likely become our counselors. Analyzing the case histories of enough patients and a complex linguistic algorithm, they’ll be our therapists if not our friends.

The intersection of these two worlds, where our funniest people have always found their most profound material, will remain the last stronghold of humanity. Siri will respond to my request for a joke with a joke, but Siri does not understand why a joke is a joke. It is similarly incapable of understanding how to tailor a joke to my particular sense of humor, intellect, and experiences. Siri can’t read a room.

This post is part of a daily conversation between Ben Wilkoff and me. Each day Ben and I post a question to each other and then respond to one another. You can follow the questions and respond via Twitter at #LifeWideLearning16.

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