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Reading Ancient Records Of Humanity, With AI's Help

O, artificial intelligence, we have so many hopes for you! For example, we're hoping you can help us understand ourselves over the long centuries.

It turns out that in his 1984 novel Heretics of Dune, science fiction author Frank Herbert gave us a peek into the House Records of the Bene Gesserit, an organization with archives that spanned many thousands of years of human activity.

The holoprojector flickered with its continuing production above the table top - more bits and pieces that she had summoned.

Taraza rather distrusted Archivists, which she knew was an ambivalent attitude because she recognized the underlying necessity for data. But Chapter House Records could only be viewed as a jungle of of abbreviations, special notations, coded insertions, and footnotes. Such material often required a Mentat for translation or, what was worse in times of extreme fatigue demanded that she delve into Other Memories. ...You could never consult Archival Records in a straightforward manner.
(Read more about Herbert's Bene Gesserit House records)

What a mess! And we actual non-fictional human beings are in no better shape than the Bene Gesserit:

[Just to name one repository,] the Abbey Library of St. Gall in Switzerland is home to approximately 160,000 volumes of literary and historical manuscripts dating back to the eighth century—all of which are written by hand, on parchment, in languages rarely spoken in modern times.

To preserve these historical accounts of humanity, such texts, numbering in the millions, have been kept safely stored away in libraries and monasteries all over the world...

Can anything be done, since we don't even have Mentats to help us? Especially since it's now clear that there are endless millions of untranslated texts in archives all over the world.

Now, researchers at University of Notre Dame are developing an artificial neural network to read complex ancient handwriting based on human perception to improve capabilities of deep learning transcription.

"We're dealing with historical documents written in styles that have long fallen out of fashion, going back many centuries, and in languages like Latin, which are rarely ever used anymore," said Walter Scheirer, the Dennis O. Doughty Collegiate Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame. "You can get beautiful photos of these materials, but what we've set out to do is automate transcription in a way that mimics the perception of the page through the eyes of the expert reader and provides a quick, searchable reading of the text."

(Via Measuring Human Perception to Improve Handwritten Document Transcription and TechXplore)

Artificial intelligence to the rescue! Of course, Technovelgy.com has lots of science fiction references to AI as well as many many stories on the intersection between real-world AI studies and science fiction - see Artificial intelligence in science fiction.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/29/2021)

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