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Make Strange Stories from Your Pictures with Word Camera

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Is a picture really worth 1000 words? Taking pictures has gotten easier than ever, knocking the word/picture exchange rate way out of balance. But Ross Goodwin, an NYU graduate student, recently made it a lot easier to get your picture’s worth, by automatically generating long, wordy, and sometimes eerily strange descriptions of your photos.

Goodwin created word.camera, an app that creates “lexographs,” or text documents generated from photographs. It takes images, either directly from your camera or from uploaded files, and uses Clarifai, an image recognition tool, to extract tags and then feeds them into ConceptNet, a network trained on the relationship of words to meaning and real world knowledge. It feeds the result through a template that creates sentences to weave the information together and returns a description that might be given by a Martian who’s read an encyclopedia and is looking at the picture through a foggy telescope. This can be fun, and often weirdly poetic.

For example here’s the first few paragraphs from a lexograph of this photo:

 

Accordingly, a singer, a stringed instrument, and a european. Now, the singer is made from a person who singing. The stringed instrument is for jam session, and the european is a native or inhabitant of europe. For this purpose, the singer yearns for smoking marijuiana. There, it is a person who singing. To put it another way, it evokes crooner. In conclusion, it evokes performer.

To sum up, a ballet dancer and a group: the ballet dancer belongs to a company that producing ballets, and the group evokes accession. Never, the group may include individual. Nonetheless, it is a set with composition operation. Once, it is a collecting in one place. Also, it is a set that being closed, associative, has an identity element and every element has an inverse. Immediately, the ballet dancer is known to some as ballerina. However, it may perfect his posture. Though, it is also known as a ballerina. Doubtedly, it is a one who dancing ballet.

Or a skeleton, which is for teach anatomy to student. To repeat, it is an organisation. Surely, it evokes bone. For example, it evokes skeleton in closet. Nonetheless, it evokes endoskeleton. Nevertheless, it evokes secretting.

To this end, a dalmatian, a musical performance, and a theater. By all means the dalmatian evokes romance. The musical performance may happen in auditorium, and the theater appertains to a building where theatrical performances or motion-picture shows can be presented. And yet, the dalmatian is a video game. Nearly, it is known to some as далматинец. Hence, it is a video game. Nonetheless, it is known to some as dalmát.

Yes, there is a performance happening, there is crooning and dancing. Are they Europeans? Yes. Are they Dalmations? No, they are supposed to be cats, but yes, they do sort of look like Dalmations. Do they yearn for marijuana, do they have skeletons in their closets? Well, they just might. The lexograph may know more than we do.

When I ran a bland picture of a parachute harness, the lexograph circled, semi-sensibly, around the ideas of harnesses, buckles, leg holes, and sports, but also went on a strange tangent about animals only dying once and children buttering bread, making the bland photo weirdly interesting. When someone else ran a picture of young Vladimir Putin the lexograph led with “Meanwhile, a history, a group, and an outfit. Undoubtedly, the history may repeat itself” before veering off to watercraft and war.

If you’re interested in artificial intelligence, playing with word.camera may give you interesting insights into the limits and strengths of image recognition and semantic networks. If you’re not, it may still give you serendipitous insights into the strange meanings that lurk in your photos and the world around you.

Play with word.camera here. If you make any you like, you can even turn them into albums or postcards.

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Can You Guess the Secret Word in This Brain Teaser?
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On his YouTube channel Mind Your Decisions, Presh Talwalkar shares logic puzzles dealing with geometry, statistics, and algebra. The puzzle below from the former Stanford math and economics student features no numbers, but that doesn’t mean it's easy to figure out.

To solve the brain teaser, you need to guess the secret word based on a few clues. Here’s the set-up: A teacher is leading a class and Albert, Bernard, and Cheryl are his students. He writes the words "cat," "dog," "has," "max," "dim," and "tag" on the board. He distributes one sheet of paper to each of his three students, with each piece containing a different letter from one of the words. He then tells them that together their letters spell one of the words on the board. The students only know their letter, they don’t know anyone else's.

The teacher asks Albert if he knows the secret word. Albert says yes, he does know it. Next, the teacher asks Bernard. After some hesitation, he replies that yes, he knows the secret word as well. Finally, the teacher asks Cheryl if she knows what the word is. She thinks for a moment and says that yes she does. Albert, Bernard, and Cheryl have successfully guessed the secret word. Do you know what it is based on their answers?

Figuring out the word without knowing any of its letters may seem difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you don’t know where to start, think about Albert’s answer and use the process of elimination to rule out some of the letters and words written on the board. Keep in mind that Bernard could only come to his conclusion from Albert’s answer, and Cheryl from Bernard’s.

Still lost? If you haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet, the correct answer is "dog." When Albert answers that he knows what the right word is based on one letter, you can use that information to narrow down his possible letters to one of the six that are never repeated on the board: c, o, h, s, x, and i. And when Bernard says that he knows too, you can deduce that his list of potential letters is limited to t, g, h, or s. That leaves "cat," "dog," and "has" as the three remaining options. Cheryl’s answer confirms that she has the letter d, which means the secret word is "dog."

If you’re looking for a more detailed walkthrough of the puzzle-solving process, check out the video from Presh Talwalkar below.

[h/t Mind Your Decisions]

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Revisit Your Favorite '90s Screensaver With This Free Game
Cahoots Malone
Cahoots Malone

In the '90s, a significant amount of computing power was devoted to generating endless brick mazes on Windows 95. The screensaver has since become iconic, and now nostalgic Microsoft fans can relive it in a whole new way. As Motherboard reports, the animation has been re-imagined into a video game called Screensaver Subterfuge.

Instead of watching passively as your computer weaves through the maze, you’re leading the journey this time around. You play as a kid hacker who’s been charged with retrieving sensitive data hidden in the screensaver of Windows 95 before devious infomancers can get to it first. The gameplay is pretty simple: Use the arrow keys to navigate the halls and press Q and click the mouse to change their design. Finding a giant smiley face takes you to level two, and finding the briefcase icon ends the game. There are also lots of giant rats in this version of the screensaver.

Screensaver Subterfuge was designed by Cahoots Malone as part of the PROCJAM 2017 generative software showcase. You can download it for free for Windows, macOS, and Linux from his website, or if playing a game sounds like too much work, you can always watch videos of the old screensaver on a loop.

[h/t Motherboard]

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