This Is What a Computer Sees When It Watches The Matrix
BY KYLE VANHEMERT 01.31.146:30 AM
When we think about machine vision, we usually think about it in a human context. We build systems that can recognize faces in our photographs or count the number of cars in a traffic jam. Rare is the computer that’s watching on its own terms. That got artist Ben Grosser wondering: Why not let a computer watch something for its own sake? What would that even look like? To find out, he programmed an artificially intelligent viewer and sent it to the movies.
Grosser let his program loose on scenes from six films, including The Matrix, American Beauty, Inception and 2001: Space Odyssey. The software “uses computer vision algorithms to ‘watch’ for areas of prominence, patterns, colors, and other aspects for each frame of the movie,” he says, identifying them as items of interest and tracking them through a sense.
Some lightweight intelligence algorithms give the computer a measure of agency, letting it pick between, say, a face, a building, a sign, or something interesting in the background. “I choose the clips themselves,” Grosser says, “but after that, the computer takes over and decides what to look at it, how long to look at it, and where it goes next.”