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"In WWII, they had a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. I think the modern equivalent of that is that there are no jaded, bored people in the high-tech industry, in the land of really good hardcore geeks."
- Neal Stephenson

Mechanical Jokester  
  A vast computer system learns about humor.  

This is one of a series of stories by Asimov about Multivac.

"Because I've heard him telling jokes to Multivac."

"Oh, no."

"Accidentally. I walked in on him and he threw me out. He was savage. He's usually good-natured enough, and I consider it a bad sign that he was so upset at the intrusion. But the fact remains that he was telling a joke to Multivac, and I'm convinced it was one of a series."

"But why?"

Whistler shrugged and rubbed a hand fiercely across his chin. "I have thought about that. I think he's trying to build up a store of jokes in Multivac's memory banks in order to get back new variations. You see what I mean? He's planning a mechanical jokester, so that he can have an infinite number of jokes at hand and never fear running out."

From Jokester, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Infinity in 1956
Additional resources -

Compare to the robot comedian from William Tenn's 1951 story The Jester.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Jokester
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to Jokester
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

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