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"I kind of take it for granted that our great-grandchildren will regard us as a sort of precursor species. That they won't think of us as human and if we could see them, we probably wouldn't think of them as human either."
- William Gibson

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
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