I have all the photos I take on my phone uploaded automatically to my Google+ account for me to view and download. I use that auto-backup feature quite extensively, and every now and then, I notice slight tweaks and improvements, as is typical for any Google product.

But I was surprised a couple of weeks ago when I found a panorama in my folder that I hadn’t taken myself. I realised that Google had detected that a few of my photos formed a sequence that could be stitched together as a panorama and just went ahead and did it. Cool! And it did a great job at it, too.

I was surprised again when I scrolled through my older images and spotted a moth flapping its wings! Google had created an animated GIF from five of the photos I had taken of the Atlas moth that hatched in our Ecogarden back in January. The pictures had been taken over a period of a couple of minutes, so it had never crossed my mind that they could be assembled into an animation. But it works very nicely!

Agitated Atlas moth

What really bowled me over, though, was what this feature – which Google calls Auto-awesome – did with a few pictures I took just a few days ago. I had noticed another moth (pure coincidence, I’m sure) on the glass of a window, resting very nicely over the traces of the old Science Centre logo that had been (almost) removed when we went through our rebranding exercise a few years back. I decided to take some pictures of the moth on the logo outline, from various angles. Imagine my surprise when Auto-awesome noticed that the reflections of the trees and feature wall behind me could be stitched together as a panorama and promptly did so, creating an image with three moths.

A virtual panorama

Creativity is often described as making unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated things, so I am tempted to call this Artificial Creativity. Awesome.

Posted by:Andy Giger

Andy is the Science Centre Singapore's Director of Strategy. He is a Neuroscientist who started out studying how Tunisian desert ants navigate, then tamed honey bees to find out more about their visual system, and moved on to counting cockroaches, feeding termites and attracting mosquitoes. Now he deals more with people, and enjoys being in touch with science on a much broader basis.

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