Google Image Search

I have previously played around with Google’s recent new Image Search feature, whereby you can search with an image file, rather than by entering text. It’s an interesting way to find the original copies of images which have been altered, or to find similar colour schemes. It’s a very complex tool which can provide amazing results. For example, by uploading a photograph of a even a very minor celebrity it is able to identify the face by name, and provide web links and images related to that person, similar to the way a text search would produce results. I imagine this search system also uses feedback from users – so the most successful results for similar images – ie the  most clicked on – are shown again when another user searches with one.

But today I tried an experiment and I was amazed to get such an accurate result. I have been watching a lecture by David Krakauer on YouTube (which is proving to be fantastic for my dissertation research), and he used a slide and stated a quote by the man pictured on it. I couldn’t quite make out the name of the man, whose name was mentioned by Krakauer, but I recognised his face fairly well.

So, I took a screenshot of the slide, opened it in MS Paint and stretched it a little as the image had morphed a little from the camera’s perspective. No colour or contrast editing involved.

I then uploaded the image to Google’s Image Search and voila –

This is an amazing piece of technology. After a little delving into the image results, I found mostly images which were similar in colour, but every now and then a bluish/purple version of the original image – most of them however were also flipped horizontally, so the system must have also altered my image to find a match. Very fascinating.

Is this going to replace our need to recognise? As with our needs to hand write, organise ourselves, make calculations (and so on) have almost become extinct thanks to computer systems?

Note: About 5 seconds later, Krakauer showed a slide with the magic word ‘Cartesian’ which I remember well from maths lessons. I guess my patience has become scarily thin. Probably thanks to Google in general.


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