Stimulus Savvy? Professor Receives $700K Federal Humor Grant

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Barack Obama’s February 2009 institution of a $787 billion stimulus package was no laughing matter.

After a brutal recession hit home, the spending motion was approved to promote jobs and pump some life back into the economy. One of the benefactors of that bill is Northwestern University professor Kristian Hammond, who is receiving more than $700,000 over a three year period to create humor-savvy computer software.

ABC Chicago reports that Hammond’s project aims to inject “intuition” into a computer. His software models analyze both news and social media, allowing computers to string jokes together that will eventually lend human users a hand in their search efforts. But some critics as high as Senator John McCain see nothing funny about Hammond’s “joke machine,” labeling the initiative as a wasteful use of the funding.