An Amazon product review with ellipsis …like this … and a lot of extra punctuation??!? That is, like,so likely to be sincere. I totally mean that, except that I don’t: Those two tics are among telltale signs of hostile irony that, when seen together, allowed a computer algorithm to correctly detect sarcasm in more than three-quarters of the examples it analyzed—as described inthis paper (pdf).
Before you say “like I care,” know that the paper, by Oren Tsur, Dmitry Davidof and Ari Rappoport, is a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. Because sarcasm has always been, you know,soeasy for computers to grasp. How are they supposed to “get” when the explicit meaning of an utterance is actually the opposite of what the speaker intended? On every level—social setting, meaning, grammar, intonation—sarcasm demands so much mental processing and detailed knowledge thateven people have a tough time with it. (A couple of different new punctuation marks, one of which is the thumbnail illustration for this post,have been proposed to help them.) No wonder some experts were surprised that an artificial intelligence could attain even a 75-percent-correct score for sarcastic phrases.