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Magic’s newest trick revealed

magic trick to surprise
Credit: iStock


Magic is not a subject often featured in Innovators Magazine – in fact it has never made an appearance.

But thanks to the work of scientists in London, who have demonstrated that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in the creative process of a trick, it seemed like the right time to reveal one.

An AI developed by a team from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) has been used to produce a word association magic trick. The AI assistant carries out some of the leg work for the mind reading trick – that is performed by a magician – by using internet searches to find out how the human mind matches words and images. Typically this step in creating the trick would see the magician perform ‘psychological experiments on participants’.

“This research is important, as it provides further evidence that computers can be used as aids in creative tasks. Particularly, it contributes to the relatively new field of the science of magic, placing magic in a similar research realm to music and other arts, and worth of investigation and exploration on its own terms,” said Professor Peter McOwan from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, and co-author of the study.

“New magic tricks are constantly being created. This research provides the magic community with another tool to use to this end, and the scientific community with some further insight into the possible uses and implications of applied computational creativity.”

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