This article is more than 1 year old

A sarcasm detector bot? That sounds absolutely brilliant. Definitely

We're really, really, really big fans of this one. Oh yes

A sarcasm detector bot that outputs emojis in response to strings of text? Yep, it’s another brilliant AI project in the quiet days of summer.

If you can spot the sarcasm above, chances are you’re human rather than a bot. The particular bot that we’re talking about here is made by DeepMoji, a spinoff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“We use millions of texts on Twitter containing emojis for training a deep learning model that understands many nuances of how language is used to express emotions,” says the project’s about page.

A blog post by one of the lead researchers, Bjarke Felbo, explains a bit more: “While most computer science research in this field has focused on positive/negative sentiment analysis, the three dominant theories of emotion agree that humans operate with much more nuanced emotion representations.”

Using a dataset of 1.2 billion tweets, the DeepMoji team trained their model to predict what emojis (for elderly readers, those are the little cartoon graphics that youth of today like to include in their textual output – see also “smileys”) would be included with a particular sentence or phrase.

Felbo, perhaps naturally, boasted a little about his team’s production and how they claim to have overcome the traditional problem of sentiment analysis software: that it simply can’t tell the difference between genuine positivity and sarcasm.

“Our model, however, does not suffer from this shortcoming,” he wrote. “For instance, the model can capture slang such as ‘this is the shit’ being a positive statement as well as very varied usage of the word ‘love’.”

This being El Reg, we decided to try it out for ourselves.

Alright, it gets the idea with basic Britishisms. Let’s try actual sarcasm.

Rather surprisingly, it understood the sarcastic “oh joy” at the end. Having noticed the pistol emoji, we then tried it out with a spot of Billy Roberts...

Not only does it recognise that Roberts’ protagonist wants to bump off his cheating wife, but it also spots that this is a song lyric, judging by the musical emojis. We saw the same effect with Fleetwood Mac lyrics, for what that’s worth.

Is this, then, the key to cracking sarcasm on social media?

Yeah, right. ®

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