2023.09.20 – The Grumpy Old Man on AI and Genealogy


The Grumpy Old Man on Leveraging AI in Genealogy: A New Age of Ancestral Discovery

I may be a Grumpy Old Man, that is true. Contrary to popular belief, all people over 20 are not computer illiterate. Granted, I am not an expert. However, I am constantly looking to educate myself. When I heard of AI, I dived in head first. Of course, being interested in Genealogy, I had to see how the combination of the two was compatible. So what did I do? I asked AI.

This is what it said:

Genealogy, the study of families and their lineages has been a passion and a profession for many throughout history. However, with the advent of technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), the field has experienced a transformative shift. Today, AI stands at the forefront, ushering in a new age of ancestral discovery and offering unprecedented tools to professional genealogists and hobbyists.

1. Digitizing Records with Precision: Historical documents, such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, are often stored in vast archives, libraries, and repositories. Many of these are handwritten, faded, or even damaged. Traditional digitization can be slow and error-prone. However, with its deep learning capabilities, AI can quickly and accurately convert these documents into digital formats, recognizing intricate patterns in handwriting that may be difficult for the human eye to decipher.

2. Advanced Image Recognition: Old photographs are cherished assets in genealogy, giving faces to names and stories. AI-driven image recognition tools can identify individuals in pictures by comparing facial features across various photos. Furthermore, these tools can estimate timeframes when photos were taken based on fashion, background, and other contextual clues.

3. Predictive Analysis for Matching Relatives: Modern DNA databases and genealogical platforms use AI to predict potential family connections. By analyzing vast amounts of data, AI can find subtle patterns and links that manual investigations might miss. AI has led to many surprising and heartwarming reunions of long-lost family members.

4. Enhancing Storytelling with Augmented Reality (AR): Integrating AI with AR offers genealogists an immersive experience. Imagine pointing your smartphone or AR glasses at an old letter and seeing real-time translations, annotations, or even a holographic storyteller narrating the history linked to that document.

5. Natural Language Processing for Data Extraction: Numerous ancestral stories are buried within long texts, newspapers, and journals. AI, equipped with natural language processing, can scan and extract relevant information from vast amounts of textual data, such as names, dates, and places. AI speeds up research and ensures that no stone is left unturned.

6. Continuous Learning and Data Refinement: The beauty of AI lies in its ability to learn continuously. As more data is fed into genealogical AI systems, they become better at predicting relationships, deciphering old scripts, and suggesting potential research sources.

In conclusion, AI is not here to replace the meticulous work of genealogists but to augment it. By bridging technology with history, AI empowers researchers to dive deeper into their roots, uncovering stories that were once thought impossible with efficiency and precision. As AI evolves, so will our understanding of the intricate web that connects us all. The future of genealogy, illuminated by AI, promises exciting discoveries and deeper connections to our past.

Pat Smart

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