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Johns Hopkins-Led Team Aims to Turn Computer Systems Into Digital Detectives


A robot detective.

Researchers are working to streamline investigations involving video footage, photos, Internet communications, phone records, and other material by developing algorithms for extracting relevant details from the data.

Credit: ARcartoon

An international team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is using an $11-million U.S. Department of Defense grant to streamline investigations involving video footage, photos, Internet communications, phone records, and other material by developing algorithms for extracting relevant details from the data.

The team's goal is to teach a computer system to "think" like a human investigator and to quickly identify the most useful information while ignoring irrelevant details.

"We want the computer to recognize what objects are present in a photo or video, what actions are taken, and to see what the contextual relationships among these entities are," says JHU professor Rene Vidal.

He notes a more intelligent computer system could provide time-saving help to the armed forces. For example, if the military needs to analyze 10 million recorded conversations to find information about the enemy, an intelligent computer system could identify which conversations contain valuable information.

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