Joke generating computer brings festive gags to Glasgow Science Centre

Heard the one about the computer that tells jokes? A new exhibit launched at the Glasgow Science Centre yesterday (Wednesday December 9) will give children from across Scotland the chance to create their very own Christmas cracker gags this festive season.

The Joking Computer has the capacity to build millions of different jokes using a large dictionary of language and simple language rules.

Developed by computing scientists from the University of Aberdeen in partnership with Glasgow Science Centre, the project received £105K of funding for public engagement from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to create the exhibit, which aims to teach young people about what computing technology can achieve.

The software used in the Joking Computer exhibit was initially developed to help children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy build on their language skills.

Dr Judith Masthoff from the University of Aberdeen’s Department of Computing Science said: “The original software used in the Joking Computer was generated through a project between the University of Aberdeen, and Dundee and Edinburgh universities. 

“The aim was to provide software which children with cerebral palsy, or similar impairments, could use to explore language. By playing with words and phrases, and teaming up with the computer to make jokes, the disabled children who originally trialed the software would get practice with language, and would also have jokes of their own to tell their friends.

“The development of this exhibit for the Glasgow Science Centre grew from that original project. 

“Apart from being a fun way to experiment with language, the aim of the Joking Computer is to showcase to the general public - and specifically to young audiences - what computing technology can achieve and how it can be used to have a hugely positive impact on our lives.

“We hope the exhibit will also encourage young people to engage with the topic of computing with a view to considering potential academic or occupational careers in the subject in the future.”

Kirk Ramsay, Chief Executive of Glasgow Science Centre said: “Science and technology infiltrate all aspects of our daily lives and the Joking Computer is a perfect example of this.  It typifies the sophistication of the science and technology nowadays, and shows how computing power is used in many kinds of activities 

“The premise behind the exhibit echoes the Centre’s mission, to promote science and technology through thought-provoking, fun and exciting experiences. I know that our visitors will certainly have loads of fun interacting with the technology behind this exhibit and there will be a few chuckles heard from its direction!”

Some of the jokes created by the Joking Computer include:

  • What kind of tree is nauseated?
  • A sick-amore


  • What do you get when you cross a frog with a road?
  • A main toad


  • What do you get when you cross a mum with an award?
  • A prize mummy

For more information on the Joking Computer visit: