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This article was published on March 11, 2016

This app uses machine learning to let your iPhone see the world for itself

Mix
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Mix

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Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about his work on Twitter.

With AI Scry, you’ll never have to wonder how your iPhone would describe the world around you if it was capable of autonomous thinking.

Available for iOS, AI Scry is a new app that generates automatic descriptions of whatever appears in front of your phone’s camera.

Created by Oakland-based art/technology studio Disc Cactus (or 💾🌵 as it’s stylized), the app aims to showcase the merits and weaknesses of machine learning technologies in a fun and entertaining manner.

One of the developers who worked on the project, Sam Kronik, says that to give your phone a mind of its own it uses the open-sourced neural network Neural Talk introduced by Stanford scientist Andrej Karpathy.

While AI Scry will occasionally put the right label on the objects it ‘sees’, the app is still at a stage where it is more amusing than it is accurate. Yet – despite all of its shortcomings – the app successfully demonstrates the possibilities of machine learning without being “too robotic.”

“When you set [artificial intelligence] free and unconstrained in the world (as with AI Scry), it’s plain to see that it has a ‘mind’ of its own,” Kronik told the The Verge. “[It’s] complete with weird quirks and idiosyncrasies that can be traced back to the chain of humans who designed, programmed, and trained the system.”

At present AI Scry offers a very limited functionality, but once the technology advances such apps could prove particularly useful to individuals struggling with visual impairment, giving them a new way of interacting with the world.

➤ AI Scry [iOS via The Verge]

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