What Is Google "Quick, Draw!"? This Game About Machine Learning Is Both Hilarious & Helpful

Want to put all those years of scribbling in the corners of your school notebooks to good use? You might not think that doodling could be part of an A.I. experiment, but with the new site from Google, Quick, Draw!, you're scribbles are key to machine learning. What is Google Quick, Draw!, exactly? If you have ever wanted to play Pictionary with a computer, now is your chance! The new game, which launched in mid-November, prompts players to speedily draw six different objects while an algorithm attempts to guess what it is that they are drawing. The result is a fun, silly diversion that makes machine learning accessible, all while teaching Google's neural network to recognize different doodles. If you've got 120 seconds to spare, it's definitely worth a try on your next lunch break.

To play the game, simply visit the Quick, Draw! site and agree with the tap of a button to start drawing. The game will prompt you to draw six objects, giving you 20 seconds to complete each task. Use your finger on the mousepad or touch screen to draw your version of the object while time ticks down. Each assigned object varies in terms of difficulty and detail, though they are all definitely sketchable.

The algorithm will guess at the object in real-time while you draw, telling you what it sees (which can be pretty darn hilarious). As I attempted to draw a "skateboard," the computer saw a peanut, canoe, and hot tub. Luckily, there is no judgement when it comes to artistic skills. Phew!

Once you have completed your six doodles, the program will show you examples of what other people have drawn in a summary of work. You can see how the algorithm came to its correct guesses, or where it went wrong, by viewing your doodle as compared to hundreds of others for the same object.

You definitely don't have to be an artist to play Quick, Draw!. In fact, it's better for the algorithm's education if you're not a professional illustrator. As the creators of the game explain in the introductory video below, in order for a computer program to recognize different doodles, it has to be shown a lot of variations of the same thing. Chances are, your drawing of a cat (no matter how "artistically" good or bad) will have features in common with other people's cat doodles.

Google Developers on YouTube

Recognizing these patterns is intrinsic to computer learning, and the more examples of each object the computer sees the higher its accuracy will be when guessing. To date, the program has only seen a "few thousand doodles," and that's where "Quick, Draw!" comes in. The game is open for anyone to play online, and the more people play, the more the program will learn, and the better it will get at guessing.

Quick, Draw! is part of a host of A.I. experiments that Google has released, toying with the many different ways to play with machine learning. Get in on the fun, and show the algorithm what you got!

Images: Unsplash/Pexels; Screenshot/Quick,Draw!