Schoolchildren compete to tell the best jokes, with a comedy punishment for those whose efforts are not up to scratch. Jarred Christmas hosts.

The Joke Machine - Netflix

Type: Variety

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 5 minutes

Premier: 2014-05-26

The Joke Machine - Useless machine - Netflix

A useless machine is a device which has a function but no direct purpose. It may be intended to make a philosophical point, as an amusing engineering “hack”, or as an intellectual joke. Devices which have no function or which malfunction are not considered to be “useless machines”. The most well-known “useless machines” are those inspired by Marvin Minsky's design, in which the device's sole function is to switch itself off by operating its own “off” switch. More elaborate devices and novelty toys, having some obvious function or entertainment value, have been based on these simple “useless machines”.

The Joke Machine - History - Netflix

The Italian artist Bruno Munari began building “useless machines” (macchine inutili) in the 1930s. He was a “third generation” Futurist and did not share the first generation's boundless enthusiasm for technology, but sought to counter the threats of a world under machine rule by building machines that were artistic and unproductive. The version of the useless machine that became famous in information theory (basically a box with a simple switch which, when turned “on”, causes a hand or lever to appear from inside the box that switches the machine “off” before disappearing inside the box again) appears to have been invented by MIT professor and artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky, while he was a graduate student at Bell Labs in 1952. Minsky dubbed his invention the “ultimate machine”, but that sense of the term did not catch on. The device has also been called the “Leave Me Alone Box”. Minsky's mentor at Bell Labs, information theory pioneer Claude Shannon (who later also became an MIT professor), made his own versions of the machine. He kept one on his desk, where science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke saw it. Clarke later wrote, “There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing—absolutely nothing—except switch itself off”, and he was fascinated by the concept. Minsky also invented a “gravity machine” that would ring a bell if the gravitational constant were to change, a theoretical possibility that is not expected to occur in the foreseeable future.

The Joke Machine - References - Netflix