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We already have computers writing newspaper articles, novels, and short films (including one starring Thomas Middleditch from Silicon Valley!). Could computers—or, to be more specific, artificial intelligence programs hosted in computers—someday design something as complicated as a video game?

A small but important step in this direction was taken by Magic Pony Technology, a startup founded by graduates of Imperial College London. Their machine-learning technology turns low-resolution graphics into high-resolution ones.

For you and me, it’s easy to the see the difference between crummy graphics and decent graphics. Our brains quickly identify telltale signs like pixelation and choppy action. A machine just sees zeros and ones—unless you tell it the difference. Magic Pony feeds a high-quality graphics version of a game and a low-quality-graphics version and lets the machine figure out the differences between the two. Ideally, the program will learn how to improve low-quality graphics quickly—the same way advanced photo apps now eliminate shaky focus and red-eye.

In June 2016, Twitter bought Magic Pony, likely to use their technology to improve quality in the display of videos.


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