Researchers use artificial intelligence to create magic tricks

A group of researchers at Queen Mary University in London have taken to creating magic tricks using artificial intelligence — something they've made available for anyone who is interested over on the QMagic site. There are four tricks so far, including one that involves having a smartphone guess what a playing card is, and another that turns one's smartphone into a "crystal ball" that can read minds. Even better, the app-based tricks have been released in the Google Play Store for others to enjoy.

The trick featured below, for example, uses an app to guess which card out of a lineup the viewer chooses — something, obviously, it does correctly. The setup behind it is simple. The app itself is expecting a certain card order, which the magician arranges beforehand.

Artificial intelligence has a benefit over human-made magic tricks, as explained by the project's co-creator Howard Williams. "Computer intelligence can process much larger amounts of information and run through all the possible outcomes in a way that is almost impossible for a person to do on their own." And because it can come up with so many arrangements for the deck, it requires less information from the viewer to make a correct guess.

In addition to creating the tricks uisng artificial intelligence, the researchers are also using the data gathered to amass research on "the psychology of being a spectator." Giving one example, researcher Peter McOwan said the team had thought maybe an audience would be "suspicious" of including technology as part of the trick, but that turned out incorrect.

With this artificial intelligence, researchers have also developed a clever jigsaw puzzle with disappearing shapes (download available via PDF), as well as the aforementioned Crystal Ball, the Subliminal Card trick, and the Phoney trick featured above.