Skip to content

Tag: prediction vs. explanation

Google tries to find the funniest videos

Following my recent post on the project which tries to explain why some video clips go viral, here is a report on Google’s efforts to find the funniest videos: You’d think the reasons for something being funny were beyond the reach of science – but Google’s brain-box researchers have managed to come up with a formula for working out which YouTube video clips are the funniest. The Google researcher behind the project is quoted saying: ‘If a user uses an “loooooool” vs an “loool”, does it mean they were more amused? We designed features to quantify the degree of emphasis on words associated with amusement in viewer comments.’ Other factors taken into account are tags, descriptions, and ‘whether audible laughter can be heard in the background‘. Ultimately, the algorithm gives a ranking of the funniest videos  (with No No No No Cat on top, since you asked). Now I usually have high respect for all things Google, but this ‘research’ at first appeared to be a total piece of junk. Of course, it turned out that it is just the way it is reported by the Daily Mail (cited above), New Scientist and countless other more or less reputable outlets. Google’s new algorithm does not provide a normative ranking of the funniest videos ever based on some objective criteria; it is a predictive score about the video’s comedic potential. Google trained the algorithm on a bunch of videos (it’s unclear from the original source what the external ‘fun’ measure used for the…