new experiment from Google is turning imagery from the
company’s Street View service into impressive digital photographs
using nothing but artificial intelligence (AI).
Google is using machine learning algorithms to train a deep
neural network to roam around places such as Canada’s
and California’s national parks, look for potentially
suitable landscape images, and then work on them with special
The idea is to “mimic the workflow of a professional
photographer,” and to do so Google is relying on so-called
generative adversarial networks (GAN), which essentially pit two
neural networks against one another.
With this Google experiment, the first, “generative” model tries
to fix a picture that has previously been messed with on purpose
(with things like brightness and contrast changed at random),
while the “discriminative” one analyses and compares the original
(messed) shot and the fixed one.
The result is a software that is able to understand the
principles of good photography (like, for instance, not
oversaturating colours), and uses this knowledge to work its way
through the scanned images that come from Google Maps.
When the AI system recognises a potentially interesting image, it
first crops it, then tweaks things such as saturation and the
strength of dynamic range, and applies a filter (Google calls it
a “dramatic mask”).
The results are — according to professional photographers —
impressive. The photographers Google worked with on the small
project ranked about two in every five…