2 min read

Artificial Intelligence has been climbing on the success of playing difficult classic board games like Chess and Go to complex multiplayer online games like DOTA 2 and StarCraft. Last month, Google DeepMind’s AI AlphaStar defeated StarCraft II pros. Unity also launched an ‘Obstacle Tower Challenge’ to test AI game players.

In a similar move, yesterday Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence released Iconary an AI Pictionary game which allows you to collaborate with an Artificial Intelligence software. It’s not a man vs machine but more of a man and machine collaborative game.

Per the researchers behind this game, “Iconary is a breakthrough AI game in that it is the first Common Sense AI game involving language, vision, interpretation and reasoning.


Iconary offers players a limited set of icons along with a phrase describing a situation. Players need to use the icon set to compose a scene that represents the phrase and the AllenAI will try to guess it correctly. It can also update its compositions based on its human partner’s guesses to help successfully guide them towards the correct phrase.

The AI plays both on the drawing side and guessing side. For guessing, the Artificial Intelligence arranges icons and the players have to guess the phrase.

There are over 75,000 phrases supported in Iconary, with more being added regularly. However, the astonishing thing is that there are uncountable ways of representing them. This is challenging for an AI system, according to researcher Ani Kembhavi, “because it tests a wide range of common sense skills. The algorithms must first identify the visual elements in the picture, figure out how they relate to one another, and then translate that scene into simple language that humans can understand. This is why Pictionary could teach computers information that other AI benchmarks like Go and StarCraft can’t

The main goal of Iconary is to help AI systems come to an understanding of what humans are asking of it. This will help in overcoming multiple roadblocks in simple tasks by having humans and AI understand complex phrases.

The researchers write, “AllenAI has never before encountered the unique phrases in Iconary, yet our preliminary games have shown that our AI system is able to both successfully depict and understand phrases with a human partner with an often surprising deftness and nuance.”

You may give Iconary a try at iconary.allenai.org.

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