The Scotsman

AI computers learn to sleuth after watching TV crime show


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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