The mesmerizing digital magician Keelan Leyser uploaded a new video to his YouTube channel where he used artificial intelligence to assist him to perform his mind reading tricks. It has always difficult to explain how Keelan achieves his effects. Originally, Keelan has been known to use smart devices and has been seen pulling objects in and out of the screen of a smart device like an iPad. However, recently Keelan has decided to take things a step further by introducing A.I. into his show to create mind reading effects mentalists and mind readers could only dream about just a few years ago.
Traditionally, magicians have kept their mysteries to themselves. But an increasing number of illusionists believe the future lies in a hi-tech way, along with sharing the process used for the interest of human psychology. Keelan says that computer algorithms can assist magicians to create magic and mentalism tricks that feel like the magician is manipulating human psychology, specifically peoples decisions.
As an example the kind of mentalism tricks that benefits from Artificial Intelligence, deep learning and Big Data are ones where a spectator has a free choice of object but the choice that they made was already predicted ahead of time by the magician or mentalist. By hacking people’s mental association with certain objects Keelan feels that AI can legitimately and fairly accurately predict what someone will choose from a specific selection of objects before they have even chosen it themselves based on their personality type and running this through a machine algorithm. The personality type of the person is selected via a series of questions which segments them into categories and then the machine is left to do the rest of the work.
Magicians will end up using Artificial Intelligence and deep learning to find and absorb patterns of human decision making. Humans feel that we have a free choice but our choices are far more limited then we could ever imagine and it’s this limitation that can be exploited. Keelan says that people have to be careful because in the wrong hands this technology could be used by unscrupulous individuals to prey on the vulnerable as the technology and techniques could be used to enhance Cold Reading. Cold Reading is a technique used by fortune tellers, mediums and sometimes magicians or mentalists that use high probability guesses by picking up on signals and reactions to obtain a great deal of information about a person, and thus convincing them that they know this information via supernatural means.
So should magicians and mind readers be worried about AI making their acts redundant?
“Where AI lacks,” Keelan says, “is the ability to be entertaining, although some of the predictions can be entertaining for the wrong reasons, a computer’s ability to hold an audience from an emotional perspective is not there yet so I’m not too worried about a computer taking over my job fully at this stage, but that’s not to say that AI wouldn’t lessen the impact as certain trick might have on an audience. The more common place AI mind reading becomes the less impressive a magician or mentalist may appear to be, even if the magician isn’t using such technology in his performances.” Some magicians have said that some magic tricks that have amazed audiences for decades now no longer have the same impact as they used to because there are apps that can do the same work. A very popular app of this nature is the Akinator app available on iOS, which is an Artificial Intelligent Genie that has an uncanny ability to tell you the character you are thinking of just by asking you a few questions. It is stunningly accurate even if you think outside the box and it’s getting more intelligent by the day! Akinator uses a unique way of using Artificial Intelligence and a secret program combined with the marvels of crowd sourcing to create results that are shockingly impressive. Keelan says, “it’s like constructing a decision tree, where you deduct half of the remaining answers with every question, for example, is the person male or female, actor or musician, so you are able to whittle your answers down quicker than you may think. Also people have a finite amount of people or objects that they can think of and that sample size is normally smaller then you’d think and far smaller when people are put on the spot.”
Like all jobs that are threatened by AI the best approached is to stay flexible as that is the only true security Keelan says. A Charles Darwin evolutionary approach is that survival isn’t going to the strongest or most intelligent but to the most agile, it’s the people who can see the changes taking place and adapt to them. Interestingly it’s not just the low end jobs that are at risk higher level jobs are potentially more at risk, in Healthcare for instance Radiologists is a higher level job but AI can be trained to read CT scans. Keelan says that soft skills like empathy and emotional development and humour that will be increasingly important and something that AI won’t really be able to do. Learn to listen to understand and not just reply. Keelan has always tried to be ahead of the curve in his industry and says survival in an ever increasing AI world is about who is most flexible so it’s important to stay nimble.
All magic tricks are all based on hidden mathematical, scientific, or psychological principles like misdirection coupled with sleight of hand but we are now stepping into a new age of magic where magicians are able to blend machine intelligence into their tricks. It’s an exciting time to experience that moment of magic and wonder. Futurist Arthur C Clarke is famous for his 3 laws, the 3rd being that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Keelan says the issue with technology is that it only appears like magic for a very short time, and then humans get used to it and complacent very quickly and the magic is gone. Keelan says technology needs to be unique and exclusive for it to be truly indistinguishable from magic.