Humour and Laughter in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Humour and Laughter in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Earlier this week I wrote about laughter in my Appliance of Science column in the Irish Examiner. I really enjoyed researching this fascinating topic; there are so many different avenues of study to explore but one that really caught my attention in the investigation into laughter and humour in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Read more

Need a little cheering up?

Need a little cheering up?

There must be something in the air today… I was met by two very sad looking kids at school pick up, my little three year old spent half his day crying and a poor friend sounded really low on the phone.  To be honest I am not exactly full of the joys myself .  So how can we cheer ourselves up when we are low… and is there a science to it?

Most people have their own ways of shaking off the blues.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t;  Here is a list of some possible ways to cheer yourself up, with a bit of science behind each!

1. Become an avid sports fan:
Apparently sports fans are less prone to depression and have a higher level of happiness due to the sense of connection and belonging associated with following a team!

2. Have a beer:
The mere taste of beer has been shown to increase levels of dopamine when compared with soft drinks.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that can increase our sense of pleasure and well being.

3. Head to the gym:
No big surprises with this one… the endorphin release we get from exercise makes us calmer, more productive and happier people!  If you combine exercise with being in the great outdoors you can increase your happiness quotient even further.

This leads me nicely into my last point… and the one that works best for me… being in the outdoors, or more precisely…

4. Get digging:
This always works for me.  No matter what mood I might be in getting my hand stuck into the soil seems to really give me a boost.  I thought it was due to a combination of factors… free air, a bit of exercise, a distracting project and the therapeutic effect of being among nature.  It appears there is even more to it…  the presence of a non-patoghenic bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae within the soil itself.  M. vaccae has been shown to increase serotonin levels in mice and create responses similar to treatment with antidepressants.  Treatment with this friendly bacteria has been shown to increase mood in cancer patients and has been linked with improvement in cognitive function.

So, I’m off to dig a hole in the garden, while jogging on the spot, drinking a beer and cheering at the chickens to see which “team” makes it to the coop first.  I figure even if it doesn’t cheer me up it will certainly get the rest of the family laughing…. and laughter has to be the best cure of all for beating the blues!

Laughter... the best medicine!
Laughter… the best medicine!