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AI and the Duck / Rabbit illusion [an improbable experiment]

The first (documented) version of the famous ‘Duck-Rabbit’ illusion is an unattributed drawing from the 23 October 1892 issue of the German Humour Magazine Fliegende Blätter,

Since 1892, many thousands of people have struggled to decide whether the image is a duck or a rabbit. Results are about 50/50, with viewers seeing either a duck or a rabbit (sometimes in quick succession) – but not both at the same time.

Scroll-on to 2021 – how will cutting-edge AI image recognition see the image?

Experiment : The famous Duck/Rabbit image was uploaded to Google Cloud’s Vision API, which, they say :

“[…[ offers powerful pre-trained machine learning models through REST and RPC APIs.“

And can :

“Assign labels to images and quickly classify them into millions of predefined categories. Detect objects and faces, read printed and handwritten text, and build valuable metadata into your image catalog.”

Results : Google Cloud’s Vision API was :

• 95% confident it’s a bird
• 80% confident it’s a waterfowl
• 73% confident it’s a duck

Rabbit was, however, 100% absent.

From which conclusions may, or may not, be drawn.

BONUS Assignment [optional] Will Google Cloud’s Vision API see a rabbit next time? Perform your experiments here.  (a sample image to drag’n’drop can be found here)

Research research by Martin Gardiner

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