What can stage magic reveal about cognitive biases? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience in Spain, Teatro Encantado in Madrid, and University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona sought to apply AI and machine learning to quantify a professional magician’s skills in “naturalistic conditions.” They say that their trained system — which was designed to follow coins as a magician made them appear and disappear — not only served as a tracking tool but as an “artificial spectator” which could infer their location, paving the way for experiments in a subfield they describe as “artificial illusionism.” “Magic is not the violation of the natural order of things, but the command of cognitive processes,” wrote the researchers. “The insights that magic offers to psychology and cognitive science are not new, yet attempts for a science of magic are only recently flourishing. [Our system] … offers an unparalleled opportunity to measure human behavior in complex activities outside the lab, such as the magician’s prestidigitation.” The researchers sourced freely available software optimized for video analysis and pose estimation, dubbed DeepLabCut, which they leveraged to guess the location of coins in a magician’s fingers as they came in and… Read full this story
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