Join us at TNW Conference 2022 for insights into the future of tech →

The heart of tech

This article was published on September 20, 2017

Watch Microsoft’s AI suck at captioning gorgeous city landscapes on Twitter

Watch Microsoft’s AI suck at captioning gorgeous city landscapes on Twitter
Mix
Story by

Mix

Former TNW Writer

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.

Earlier this year, Microsoft opened up its Custom Vision framework to the public, empowering researchers and enthusiasts to effortlessly build and experiment with AI models; and it seems crafty users are already finding interesting ways to put the technology to use.

Recreational AI-ficionado Geoff Boeing, who is currently completing a doctorate degree in urban planning at the University of California, Berkeley, has leveraged Microsoft’s computer vision algorithm to build a bot that captions gorgeous city landscapes.

CityDescriber, as Boeing calls his invention, currently resides on Twitter, where you can follow its awkwardly phrased visual descriptions. All images are sourced from Reddit’s CityPorn community.

As you can imagine, the quirky bot gets a lot of things right, but it does make an occasional mistake here and there (like spotting invisiblepeople and trees).

Here are some of the less accurate ones:

And here are some of the ones it actually describes rather well:

Of course, this isn’t the first time someone has used Microsoft’s AI to develop a captioning bot for Twitter.

Previously, self-proclaimed ‘creative technologist’ Brian Moore relied on the same technology to build a bot specifically designed to watch and interpret Pornhub videos for hours. You know what they say: Different, but still the same.

Meanwhile, you can follow CityDescriber’s wonky captions here.

For those curious to find out more about how computer vision actually works, you can learn the basics in under 10 minutes in this awesome explainer video on YouTube.

Also tagged with