Magic in the machine: a computational magician's assistant
MetadataShow full item record
A human magician blends science, psychology, and performance to create a magical effect. In this paper we explore what can be achieved when that human intelligence is replaced or assisted by machine intelligence. Magical effects are all in some form based on hidden mathematical, scientific, or psychological principles; often the parameters controlling these underpinning techniques are hard for a magician to blend to maximize the magical effect required. The complexity is often caused by interacting and often conflicting physical and psychological constraints that need to be optimally balanced. Normally this tuning is done by trial and error, combined with human intuitions. Here we focus on applying Artificial Intelligence methods to the creation and optimization of magic tricks exploiting mathematical principles. We use experimentally derived data about particular perceptual and cognitive features, combined with a model of the underlying mathematical process to provide a psychologically valid metric to allow optimization of magical impact. In the paper we introduce our optimization methodology and describe how it can be flexibly applied to a range of different types of mathematics based tricks. We also provide two case studies as exemplars of the methodology at work: a magical jigsaw, and a mind reading card trick effect. We evaluate each trick created through testing in laboratory and public performances, and further demonstrate the real world efficacy of our approach for professional performers through sales of the tricks in a reputable magic shop in London.