Using AI to Beat TimeGuessr

By neub9
4 Min Read

I am currently working on a project that requires me to identify the locations depicted in works of art, and I am hopeful to share more about this soon. To help narrow down the exact locations shown in paintings, I have started using two AI image identification tools: GeoSpy and Bard.

The sketch shown at the top of this post is the ‘Tour de Montelban, Amsterdam’ by Maxime Lalanne. I downloaded the image from the Cleveland Museum of Art. The location of this scene is easy to find thanks to the painting’s title and because the tower still stands in Amsterdam. Because we know the exact location of this scene, it can be used to test how well GeoSpy and Bard are able to calculate the locations shown in the painting.

I uploaded the Tour de Montleban into both GeoSpy and Bard. Almost instantaneously, GeoSpy responded that the photo was taken in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The actual longitude and latitude given were a little off the exact location, but GeoSpy was impressively able to determine the correct city (if not the correct medium).

‘The architecture of the buildings and the canal are typical of the city. The vegetation is also consistent with the climate of the Netherlands. The soil is likely to be sandy, as this is the most common type of soil in the Netherlands.’

We can also get a sense of some of the clues GeoSpy uses to identify locations from images (architecture, climate, and nature).

Bard actually identified the name of the painting and the artist. I think this reveals that Google uses its extensive knowledge of the internet to do a comparative image search of the web. However, from my previous attempts at using Bard to geolocate photos, I know that Bard also uses visual clues in the image to help determine its answer.

In this case, Bard responded that,

“The etching shows the harbor of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, with the Montalban Tower in the background.”

While very impressive, Bard has also not identified the exact location of the image. However, as Bard is a chat AI, it is possible to ask for more information. I therefore asked Bard to give me the longitude and latitude, and it responded by showing me a Google Map with a marker exactly on the Montalban Tower in Amsterdam.

It was now time to get serious! I therefore decided to test GeoSpy against TimeGuessr. TimeGuessr is a fun game that requires you to identify the year and location depicted in old photographs. It is a non-scientific but hugely diverting way to test the accuracy of GeoSpy’s location detection skills.

Round 1.

Round one of today’s TimeGuessr Daily Challenge is a photograph of the Beatles on a sled in front of a building. GeoSpy identified the location as Obergurgl, Austria. While GeoSpy got the correct country, it was actually 196.4 km off identifying the correct town (Obertauern). GeoSpy scored 4304 for the location of round 1.

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