Cartoon of woman washing up while child does his homework. Caption reads: "Did you know plants make sunlight into oxygen using Photoshop?"

Gardeners dig them, dieters wouldn’t go without them and wine lovers raise a glass to their brilliance. Image recognition apps, aka visual search engines, continue to amaze and delight users with each new development.

The technology, which turns your smartphone’s camera into an image identifier, is growing in popularity, and for good reason. Horticultural buffs download PlantNet to help them recognise and name thousands of flowers; DietCameraAI assists weight-losers to count calories; while Vivino identifies wine bottles and offers other choices to try from the sommelier’s list.

And there are lots of other applications like these, from ancient coin identifiers to design assistance to shopping aids. All have a useful place in our growing high-tech armoury, both for business and leisure.

Technology can be fooled

However, they can’t be relied upon totally. In fact, tricking the equipment into thinking it is looking at something else has been easily proved by researchers.

A well-documented study by research organisation OpenAI shows how the advanced image recognition system CLIP can be fooled.

It correctly identified an apple as ‘apple’. But when researchers stuck a label with the word ‘iPod’ on to the fruit, CLIP identified the image as ‘an iPod’. Similarly, a picture of a dog was correctly identified as ‘poodle’ but when researchers overlaid the image with dollar signs, the system said the picture was a ‘piggy bank’.

All of which goes to prove that, no matter how good your artificial intelligence equipment is, it can’t beat the astuteness and acumen of your real human brain.

Clear, sensible language

Of course, that is highly applicable when it comes to linguistics as well. In our international society, the need for clear, understandable language, and sensible communication, is paramount.

Only people can do that. Machines cannot. Borne out of the mother-tongue ability to understand and communicate precisely and clearly, it is people and only people, who can be relied upon 100 per cent to get language right.

The ability to write clearly shows the ability to think clearly too. And no clever camera can change that.

To learn more, and to join Business Writing Academy, click here.
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