Google made a site that shows how millions of people draw the same object

Natt Garun

Back in November, Google released artificial intelligence experiment that asks you to draw a random object and see if the neural network can identify your doodle. Quick, Draw! was eventually turned into a tool that transformed drawings into clip art based on the best results it got, helping people add a visual icon to their work without requiring any particular artistic talent.

Alongside Google I/O this week, Google has now released the data it received from Quick, Draw! to show you how 15 million people drew the same set of objects. It’s a fascinating look at how humans interpret a random item, from monkeys to parachutes to phones.

Take a look at the frog one, for example. When I tried playing around with the AI experiment last fall, this is what I came up with.

Natt การุณรังษีวงศ์ (@nattgarun )
someone at google never heard of keropi

I wasn’t very confident in my frog (croak) so I felt that adding “Ribbit” to the drawing might provide context, even if the AI might not be able to read. It turns out, I wasn’t the only person who did this (though in general, most people didn’t. After all, you only had 20 seconds to draw each item.)

More obscure drawing cues, like yoga, turned out a lot of interesting interpretations.

Face is a neat one too -- I’d guess that depending on the artist, most of these drawings were interpreted as a self portrait. Some faces had long hair, some had big eyes, some had glasses, and others just looked like a plain emoji.

The result for dragon is one of my favorites. While you can argue that most people see frog in mostly the same way, dragon produced a variety of results — from fire-breathing to horned.

Google said it has open sourced all the submissions so developers can use the data set for whatever visual-based AI they might be working on.

With thousands of drawings to browse through, it’s pretty easy to lose yourself clicking around the Quick, Draw! datasets. So if you were planning to be productive this Friday, maybe come back to this website after you get your work done.