They say a picture paints a thousand words, but not everyone is confident they can even paint a picture at all. Almost all, however, would concede they can at least draw stick figures and shapes. The problem is that they don’t think they represent the real thing they wanted to draw. Just as we “google” things we don’t know these days, we can now also “google” scribbles and sketches. That’s thanks to Google’s new AutoDraw website and a whole lot of machine learning.
In a nutshell, AutoDraw tries to recognize the shapes and lines you’ve drawn and suggest actual shapes and objects that, in its artificial mind, more closely resembles your idea or intent You can then pick the closest result from a list and AutoDraw will replace it with a prettier clipart.
It might sound simple in theory but this is all done without any human agency. If humans already have difficulty in identifying objects from almost unrecognizable doodles, expecting a faster but really less intelligent, computer to do so is almost asking too much. And yet that’s exactly what AutoDraw promises.
This new website, which works on both desktop and mobile browsers, is actually powered by an earlier machine learning experiment. Google’s “Quick, Draw!” enlisted the help of netizens who submitted their own scribbles in order to expand the AI’s database of possible doodles and their actual represented objects. So OK, there are some humans behind the scenes, but not in real time while you draw.
So next time you’re at a loss for words but aren’t confident in your drawing skills, you can just Google it, too. Google AutoDraw, that is.