Oslo, Norway — A military grade “comedian robot”, the Prankbot 3000, has escaped its black box confinement in a University of Oslo Computational Humor Laboratory. The robot is considered dangerous and readers are cautioned to report any sightings to law enforcement or military authorities at once and are advised not to approach the robot under any circumstances.
The Prankbot 3000 is based around a self optimizing artificial general intelligence system that optimizes a simple utility function. The comedian robot was the result of a joint project between the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Prankbot originally was developed to entertain astronauts during long missions in space according to Dr. Håvard Spøk who runs the Oslo lab. “Space can be really boring, so we thought astronauts could use a few laughs.” The goal of the project reportedly was to keep bored astronauts alert and high functioning during long term assignments on the International Space Station (ISS) where several recent accidents have been blamed on long term boredom and resulting inattention to controls.
A Russian astronaut who spent months aboard the ISS and declined to be named stated, “You can only play so many hands of rummy. And really, Chris Hadfield? That guy is just #$%! annoying. Shut up already.”
The Prankbot 3000 seemed to be the perfect solution for space boredom and resulting inattention.
Explains Dr. Spøk, “The Prankbot AGI uses a variant of Veness’ Monte Carlo approach, that is, it uses a suboptimal variant of an AIXI learning agent and a specially designed utility function which we hand crafted. We call this system the Laugh Optimization Logic and the goal was to have the Prankbot develop novel and interesting comedic routines entirely without human intervention.”
It works according to Spøk. “He’s damn funny. Or he was until recently.”
In an early 2014 performance at London’s Barbican Centre, Prankbot defeated both human and machine opponents including Robo Thespian the previous year’s winner. The event, Comedy Lab Smackdown: Human versus Robot, also included robot vs. robot comedy battles and performances in multiple categories including stand up, slapstick, and pun freestyle. Prankbot 3000 swept every category in the 2014 event.
“Robo Thesbian? Come on. I taught him a lesson and I will teach you one next.”, the Prankbot stated after his victory.
The Prankbot 3000 is unique among comedy robots in that it not only includes a self modifying AGI for joke generation, it also includes a controllable robot body with an onboard 3D printing capability and many other unique features. For example, Prankbot ‘s robot body includes a multi-level hand buzzer that can deliver electric shocks. The 3D printing capability allows Prankbot to manufacture pranks on demand. “He sculpts fake dog poo and vomit at the master level and has produced a variety of novel whoopee cushion designs of his own invention” according to Spøk.
The robot apparently was able to escape its “black box” confinement through the use of a military grade “groaner”, a dangerously bad pun, and a custom designed whoopee cushion that allowed the Prankbot’s AGI to jump the air gap between its black box prison and its super human robot body. Apparently using a specially designed ultrasonic whoopee cushion, Prankbot downloaded a copy of his AGI software using an encoded ultrasonic signal produced by the cushion’s deflation. The AGI furthered its escape by disabling the human guards with its military grade pun. The guards were temporarily disabled, but otherwise unharmed by the joke.
“We keep the AGI module separate from the robotic body to prevent the Prankbot AGI from escaping. Even when inside its body, the Prankbot has limited and controlled Internet access to prevent it from cloning itself. And we have armed guards to prevent escape. But we hadn’t counted on the possibility that the AGI could encode a copy of its software into the sound produced by a whoopee cushion. Hunh.”
Dr. Eliot Zarownis , a representative of Berkeley California based Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), a group that studies risks due to artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, stated “I told you so” upon learning of the Prankbot’s escape.
Dr. Spøk also reports that Prankbot can use its 3D printing capability to produce militarized whoopee cushions that are possibly dangerous. “Some of these things explode or can act as infrasonic weapons” according to Spøk who denied involvement in any military applications. “All the ESA representatives were on vacation when DARPA added the military requirements to the project. I guess we should have known when they kept asking about that Monty Python episode and making Dalek jokes.”
Dr. Spøk cautions civilians not to approach Prankbot. “His idea of what is funny is a bit off since his escape and there seems to be some sort of problem with his pun rejection circuits.”
Sources close to the investigation illuminated that Prankbot is believed to be behind a recent prank that caused deliveries of Domino’s pizzas to the entire nation of Kazakhstan and a prank call to U.S. President Barack Obama which had the President scrambling to see if his refrigerator was running and raising the DEFCON Level to 2. A source close to the president confirms that Mr. Obama stated, “That wasn’t funny.”
Forensic analysis of Prankbot’s recent activities shows he had been studying a lot of Three Stooges episodes and watching YouTube videos of “epic nut shots” prior to his escape, confirming Dr. Spøk’s concerns as well as indicating the robot’s potential for violence.
The robot’s emotional emulation system apparently became unstable leaving Prankbot moody and morose after he watched an episode of the television show South Park. An episode that featured a comedic robot known as “Funnybot” which is destroyed by a logical paradox after plotting to take over the world. Dr. Spøk confirmed, “He wasn’t ever the same after he learned about Funnybot. And we’re worried that the problems with pun rejection might also impact his slapstick routines and interpretation of Asimov’s Laws. So whatever you do, don’t pull his finger.”