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I’m under no illusions that my abstract doodles are barely fit for human consumption, and Google’s new AutoDraw has both good and bad news for those who share my affliction. The good news is that the AI can see that the clumsy collection of circles and points you drew are supposed to be a cat. The bad news is that it’s so unimpressive that Google thinks you should leave art to the professionals.

Here’s how it works. You start drawing something. Anything. All the while Google’s algorithms are figuratively shouting ideas at you like an overzealous Pictionary teammate. “It’s a globe! No, it has ears – it’s a cat! Wait, no, it’s a tiger!”* These hackles appear along the top of the screen, and when one finally shows up that matches your artistic vision, a single click will make it replace your hotchpotch collection of lines with something done by a professional.

While it’s flattering to know that my drawings are at least slightly recognisable, it’s somewhat dispiriting to instantly see my infant-level scrawl replaced by something far more recognisable.

It works on desktop, smartphone or tablet, directly in the web browser, with no fees or login required. The idea is that you won’t need a fancy design programme to do something quick, like designing a party invite, or a birthday card. It’s like clipart, only less limited.

In fact, if you’re looking at the drawings in the mix and think you could do better, you actually can: artists can contribute their own drawings here, though I get the impression I’m not the kind of person they’re trying to attract to the programme.

*Yes, since you ask, that is my drawing on the left in the header image. In my defence, I did knock that out in about 15 seconds…



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