The nature of consciousness, the reality it conveys, and our place in the universe remains unknown. Since ancient times, two types of views have approached these problems.
2013-01-18-TEDplayvideo.jpgWhen there is a well-defined, unambiguous hypothesis to test, an experiment can be very simple: find a clear counterexample. In the case of a theory of humor, find something that is funny but is not predicted to be funny by the hypothesis, or something the hypothesis says should be funny that isn't.
If our programs can identify jokes reliably, our algorithms might be doing it in the same way that humans do. Luckily, though, we're still far from computers that appreciate humor, rather than just detecting it.
We recently found that only four brain regions play specifically important roles in the mother's brain which is wired for loving her own baby.
2013-01-18-TEDplayvideo.jpgWhy else would we find things funny and laugh about them -- pretty unusual activities, when you think about it -- unless doing so helped us survive as a species?
2013-01-18-TEDplayvideo.jpgWhat's chic, what's in and what's out, should be predicted by evolutionary theory. Otherwise it will be judged by history as just a passing phase. Eventually as outmoded as shoulder pads from the 1980s.