AI com­put­ers learn to sleuth after watch­ing TV crime show

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By ILONA AMOS

Com­put­ers in a Scot­tish lab­o­ra­tory have been binge­ing on box sets of a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion crime drama in an ef­fort to learn how to iden­tify the cul­prit in each case.

The hit US show CSI, or Crime Scene In­ves­ti­ga­tion, be­gan in 2000 and ran for 15 sea­sons. Now it has been used for a novel ex­per­i­ment.

Sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh chose the se­ries for a new study aimed at teach­ing ma­chines how to solve a prob­lem – in this case fin­ger­ing a fic­tional killer – by as­sim­i­lat­ing in­for­ma­tion from im­ages, au­dio, di­a­logue and scene de­scrip­tions.

They taught the ar­ti­fi­cially in­tel­li­gent ma­chines to ap­proach solv­ing the crimes in the same way peo­ple would – by con­sid­er­ing which char­ac­ters might be re­spon­si­ble on the ba­sis of their be­hav­iour in pre­vi­ous scenes.

In­for­ma­tion in var­i­ous forms – spo­ken, vis­ual and tex­tual – was pro­cessed as the plot of each episode un­folded.

They say the re­sults of the study sug­gest such de­vices could play a role in de­vel­op­ing ef­fi­cient al­go­rithms for re­al­world tasks that re­quire com­plex rea­son­ing.

Dr Lea Fr­ermann, from the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh’s School of In­for­mat­ics, said: “Pin­point­ing the per­pe­tra­tor in a TV show is a very dif­fi­cult task for com­put­ers, but our model per­formed en­cour­ag­ingly well.

“We hope our find­ings will aid the de­vel­op­ment of ma­chines that can take on board, and make sense of, large streams of in­for­ma­tion in real time.”

The re­searchers set out to dis­cover whether ar­ti­fi­cially in­tel­li­gent com­put­ers can find the an­swers to puz­zles that are chal­leng­ing for hu­mans.

They de­signed the com­puter model to solve ar­bi­trary prob­lems based on ac­quir­ing data.

The team mapped footage, script and back­ground sounds from five sea­sons of the show into a ma­chine-read­able for­mat and fed it into the com­put­ers, which learned to process the plot as each in­stal­ment

0 Re­searches used hit US TV show CSI to test ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence un­folded and con­tin­u­ally re­vised the crim­i­nal’s iden­tity.

The com­put­ers cor­rectly iden­ti­fied the per­pe­tra­tor dur­ing the fi­nal part of an episode 60 per cent of the time.

How­ever, although the suc­cess rate for AI sleuths is im­pres­sive, it­seem­sthatthey are not quite ready to re­place flesh-and-blood de­tec­tives.

Peo­ple who watched the same shows were able to work out who was re­spon­si­ble for the crimes 85 per cent of the time, the study found.

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