Photographer: Jesse Dittmar for The Washington Post via Getty Images

And the New Yorker Cartoon Contest Winner Is … a Computer

The magazine’s cartoon editor collaborated with Microsoft researchers on an artificial intelligence project that aims to teach machines what’s funny

Since 2005, the back page of the New Yorker has usually featured a wordless, black-and-white cartoon, and the funniest reader-submitted caption gets published in a following issue. The magazine’s caption contest has become a fan favorite over the last decade, and the cartoon department receives some 5,000 entries each week. This has become an overwhelming number of jokes to sift through—particularly for Bob Mankoff’s assistant. The 71-year-old cartoon editor for the New Yorker says the average tenure of his assistants is barely a couple of years because he keeps burning them out. “The process of looking at 5,000 caption entries a week usually destroys their mind in about two years, and then I get a new one,” Mankoff says. “It's a little bit daunting. It's like going snow blind; you go humor blind.”

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