Meet Kobian, Japan’s Robot ‘Comedian’

Admittedly, Japanese comedy is something of an acquired taste. Still, we’re forced to question the claim that this robot, named Kobian, makes people laugh in any way other than awkwardly. Normally, we’d make a Dane Cook or Jay Leno joke here, but we’re afraid that Kobian might have already beaten us to it, the hack.

If this seems a little familiar, Kobian shares many of the same principles as RoboThespian, except RoboThespian’s the one with the big anime eyes for some reason. Anyway, Kobian was built to be funny by people who appear to be the single most humorless group of humans on Earth, according to Spectrum. They not only wrote a “comedy rulebook”, they pretty much sabotaged Kobian right from the start:

The researchers recruited volunteers to determine if they found KOBIAN funny, wiring them up with EMG sensors and accelerometers and pointing video cameras to their faces to detect smiling and laugher. According to the following graph, the volunteers found a few of the routines quite funny, although in many of them KOBIAN’s attempt at humor fell flat.

Gee, we can’t imagine why they didn’t find it funny. Maybe it was all the wires connected to their skulls?

The researchers plan to write more complex skits for Kobian, and combine comedy techniques. Also, they plan to create a feedback loop where the robot will learn what humans find funny and do that more often. So, eventually, once he finds out what people find funny, Kobian will do that and only that as often as possible in order to get attention.

…We take it back. Kobian is exactly like most comedians.