Learning to see stuff

  • Date: Mar 13, 2023
  • Time: 02:00 PM c.t. - 03:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Prof. Dr. Roland W. Fleming
  • Kurt Koffka Professor of Experimental Psychology, Department of Psychology, Giessen University
  • Location: Max-Planck-Ring 8
  • Room: room 203 + zoom
  • Host: Zhaoping Li (Junhao Liang)
  • Contact: maria.pavlovic@tuebingen.mpg.de
Learning to see stuff

Humans are very good at visually recognizing materials and inferring their properties. Without touching surfaces, we can usually tell what they would feel like, and we enjoy vivid visual intuitions about how they typically behave. This is impressive because the retinal image that the visual system receives as input is the result of complex interactions between many physical processes. Somehow the brain has to disentangle these different factors. I will present some recent work in which we show that an unsupervised neural network trained on images of surfaces spontaneously learns to disentangle reflectance, lighting and shape. However, the disentanglement is not perfect, and we find that as a result the network not only predicts the broad successes of human gloss perception, but also the specific pattern of errors that humans exhibit on an image-by-image basis. I will argue this has important implications for thinking about appearance and vision more broadly.

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