Tag: Android

Computer App to Replace Magicians?

Just above the ground-breaking news report, “18 Celebrities Who Clearly Have Fake Teeth,” The UK Daily Mail warns Dynamo that his job may be at risk.
“Watch out Dynamo! Computer uses artificial intelligence to create magic tricks – and now you can download its illusions as an app.”
We were tempted to get to the bottom of the celebrity fake teeth scandal but decided to read about artificial intelligence’s use in the service of magicians.  We don’t think it will replace human magicians like Dynamo, Criss Angel, David Blaine or Pengo the Magic Clown – at least not yet.

Really smart researchers from London’s Queen Mary University used a computer to design a classic puzzle/trick and devise a mentalism app for your Android or iPhone device.  Both still require a real, human (with or without its natural teeth) to perform and both are impressive.

Even more impressive, however, is the work behind the demonstrations.

The two brains behind the effects, Dr. Howard Williams and Professor Peter McOwan found a natural connection between computers and mathematical magic tricks.  They published their findings in Frontiers in Psychology (which we read only for the pictures) and later sold the effects through a magic shop.  You can pick up the phone version of their card trick in the Google Play Store.  It is called Phoney – even more connection to the celebrity fake teeth scandal.

What can a computer do that a well-trained magician cannot?  Dr. Williams notes, “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. So while, a member of the audience might have seen a variation on this trick before, the AI can now use psychological and mathematical principles to create lots of different versions and keep audiences guessing.”

“AI” means “Artificial (or “Fake”) Intelligence.

We bought Phoney and have it on our Android device and are impressed by its method – not what one would think – and the way the creators have it hide on your phone.  To be fair, it is a trick a magician could do without the AI but it is much easier and just as impressive to use one’s phone.

Check out the Computer Science For Fun website for a great survey of neat magic and non-magic things computers can do: www.cs4fn.org/magic.  The site has links to other great sites where you can download free ebooks with neat science-based magic tricks.

By the way, we checked out the fake teeth scandal and were shocked to learn that some of the biggest stars in Hollywood have had dental work – some had whitening, others got caps and one female star apparently had braces to straighten her teeth.  Frankly, we feel faint and need to sit down for a little bit.

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