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Microsoft's wacky AI app matches you with a dog breed

It's hit-and-miss with people, but brilliant at identifying dogs.
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is getting pretty good at identifying people, but before it starts looking for Sarah Connor, Microsoft's Garage team is having fun with it. Last time, the group released an app that (poorly) guessed your age, and the latest app, Fetch, determines what dog breed you'd be based on your photo. It sometimes makes canny matches, but on the other hand, three different pictures of the same person (below) yielded three different breeds of dog -- an Afghan hound, a Cairn terrier and a Beagle, so it's lacking in consistency.

On the other hand, the app is excellent at identifying actual dogs. It correctly identified our family Bull Terrier "Harpo," even though he was wearing a cone of shame. It also correctly identified a part German Shepherd as such. "We use one of the hottest machine learning techniques available, called deep neural networks," said Microsoft Research director Mitch Goldberg. "You don't train it on a particular dog breed. You give it numerous images, and it, in the training process, determines what's unique in each of the dogs."

Gallery: Microsoft Fetch artificial intelligence app | 8 Photos

Inputting other animals, including humans, into the app was a hoot, of course. The app related our friend's pet duck to a Bull Terrier as well, no doubt because of its similar "beak." Our scraggly cat, meanwhile, was a Malamute that's "problematic with other dogs," which is true because it's, well, a cat. A few of us at Engadget took a spin and found that the dog breeds did line up with our personalities, though we're suspicious that like horoscopes, it may have been telling us what we want to hear. To see all the results, check the gallery below.

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