If you're a long-time user of Microsoft Office you might remember the awful "Clippy" feature that used to be part of the product. Clippy was a cartoon character in the shape of a paperclip (which, incidentally, is known in French as a trombone. Isn't that neat?)
As soon as you started typing "Dear " at the top of a page, Clippy would spring into life and exclaim "It looks like you're typing a letter. Would you like some help with that?". No one ever knew what would happen if you answered yes, because the feature was so annoying that nobody every wanted to click the button and find out. The feature was eventually dropped.
The other day, however, I stumbled across an intriguing online app. It's a drawing and painting app which runs in your browser so there's nothing to download or install. There are plenty of such systems around, of course, but what makes www.autodraw.com so incredibly interesting is that it features a Clippy-like feature. Start drawing something and, as you do so, a list of suggested items appears on the top menu bar. The more you draw, the more the list of suggestions is refined. Click on one of them, and your scrawl is replaced by a much better version.
Autodraw is, if nothing else, a very capable and run online-based drawing and painting app that's fun to use. But with this level of artificial intelligence added on top, it's very clever and fascinating. Try it. See how quickly it recognises, or fails to recognise, what you're trying to draw.
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