Tomorrow’s AI detectives are learning their craft from TV: Binge watching CSI helps them guess the criminal 60% of the time
By Jayson Veley // Nov 17, 2017

In the digital age we are currently living in, it’s not uncommon to see human employees working alongside computers and artificial intelligence, or even jobs that are being replaced by machines entirely. Crime scene investigators are certainly no exception to this trend, but while having computers work alongside investigators may seem like something that is just common sense, the way in which these computers work is a bit, shall we say, unorthodox.


Scientists have successfully trained a computer to solve crimes just like a human investigator would do, but instead of using a notebook and a magnifying glass, this computer learns to solve cases by binge-watching episodes of the TV program Crime Scene Investigation (CSI).

While the computer can only arrive at the correct answer 60 percent of the time and is significantly less skilled than their human counterparts, who on average get it right 85 percent of the time, researchers hope that their work will aid in the development of more advanced machines that can make sense of large amounts of information in real time.

The computer, which researchers claim has the ability to identify a fictional killer, does so by collecting information from images, audio, transcribed dialogue and scene descriptions from select episodes of Crime Scene Investigation. Similar to how human beings solve crimes, the machine was taught to pay attention to the footage, script and background sounds of the episodes to determine which characters might be responsible. Throughout each episode, the computer was instructed to tell whether or not it believed the person who committed the crime was on screen.

Results showed that the AI was able to correctly identify the perpetrator at the end of each episode 60 percent of the time, compared to human investigators who get it right 85 percent of the time.

“Pinpointing the perpetrator in a TV show is a very difficult task for computers, but our model performed encouragingly well,” explained Dr. Lea Frermann, lead author of the study. “We hope our findings will aid the development of machines that can take on board – and make sense of – large stream of information in real time.”

Machines and artificial intelligence aren’t always introduced into the workforce for purposes of convenience, however. Indeed, many businesses and corporations across the country are beginning to look to machines as a less expensive alternative to human employees. (Related: Putin warns that artificial intelligence will be the ultimate weapon for world domination.)

Last year, it was revealed that the popular fast food chain Wendy’s was planning on replacing workers with machines in order to cut costs and counter the rising minimum wage. Instead of human employees, Wendy’s announced in 2016 that it would be installing self-service kiosks at various locations across the United States.

According to Todd Penegor, president of Wendy’s, the decision was made in response to wage increases at the ten percent of Wendy’s restaurants that are operated by the company. Penegor added that an increased amount of competition between the companies for a smaller pool of workers is causing the cost of hiring to rise.

McDonald’s has taken a similar approach. Early last year, it was reported that the fast food chain would be opening their first “McDonalds Next” outlet in Hong Kong, which would feature touch screens and computer-controlled service. (Related: Machines could replace teachers within ten years.)

Whether it's helping to solve murders or helping to combat the rising cost of minimum wages, machines and artificial intelligence are starting to play an increasingly significant role in our world. It’s a terrifying thought, but at this rate, it’s not that farfetched to say that one day, machines could play a larger role in our society than human beings.

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