So now computers can spot when we’re being sarcastic, I’m SO IMPRESSED.

Things are actually pretty great in the world of sentiment detection, where people are trying to teach artificial intelligence how to pick up on the tone behind our words.

And a team has managed to teach an algorithm how to spot when people are being sarcastic.


DARPA’s Information Innovation Office joined up with researchers at the University of Central Florida and they taught a deep learning algorithm about sarcasm in the most efficient way possible: they fed it thousands of articles from The Onion, plus snarky threads from Twitter and Reddit.

And the AI figured out how to detect sarcastic posts from regular ones, though in a different way than we usually do.

Humans spot sarcasm through context, like the tone of voice a person uses, or maybe if they roll their eyes as they speak.

The algorithm looked for patterns in the words themselves that might reveal that the meaning of a phrase or a sentence was actually the opposite of what it might appear to mean on its face.

What’s the practical use here?

Maybe there could be a chat bot that handles customer service questions for a company, and it could recognize when someone’s saying “yeah right” because they’re being snarky instead of earnest, and it could adjust its responses to better help.

Or an AI system that analyzing public comments on a policy idea could spot which responses were genuine and which were trolling.

If nothing else, artificial intelligence is about trying to understand increasingly complex concepts – and human communication can be very complex.

Especially on the internet, where there’s enough irony flying around to block out the sun.

So I’m just so sure that an algorithm that can detect sarcasm is going to be SO GREAT TO HAVE AROUND.


The Friday before Memorial Day is National Road Trip Day.

While there are many, many places to explore, here’s one you might enjoy: there’s a small town in Kansas named Gas.

Seriously, it’s named Gas, tough the locals like to include part of the name of their state when they talk about it.

They call it Gas, Kan.

Big Whoop: DARPA Makes Oh-So-Clever Online Sarcasm Detector (Interesting Engineering)

These 8 Kansas Towns Have The Silliest Names But Are So Worth A Visit (Only in Kansas)

No snark to detect when we say our Patreon backers are the best

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr/Creative Commons