Fingerprints and evidences. Crimes and investigations. Magnifying glasses and test reports. Detectives and forensic experts. Sidney Sheldon and Goodfellas and Catch Me If You Can…you get the point. We’re definitely referring to crime thrillers and all the paraphernalia we can associate this genre with.
Think about the last time you heard or read about a criminal investigation being carried out. Was it only the cops or the CBI or any such equivalent investigation body typically dealing with the entire case? While it is often people from these domains who ostensibly handle such investigations, another very prominent branch is the forensic department. Whether it’s matching fingerprints, conducting postmortem or producing forensic reports, this department does it all. With rapid technical advancement in all the fields, particularly in the domain of investigation and forensic science, Artificial Intelligence has successfully made its grand entry into this domain as well! How is AI being implemented in the field of forensic science?
Last time, we spoke to you about the role of RPA in law. Well, we’re back with a blog; and today, let’s have a look at the role of AI in forensics:
1. INVESTIGATION IS FUN, BUT CAN WE SAY THE SAME ABOUT CONSOLIDATING DATA?
Forensic investigation involves extensive research collecting of evidence from different sources and then consolidating the same in order to arrive at logical conclusions. While the process of vigilantly deriving such data from ‘mysterious’ sources can certainly be a productive and interesting job, handling large chunks of data can often be confusing and chaotic. AI can help forensic experts with handling data effectively and performing meta-analysis at various levels during the investigation. This can save a considerable amount of time and also ensure that forensic investigators have enough time and inclination to work on other important tasks!
2. OKAY…BUT WILL AI ALSO ENSURE THAT ALL THIS DATA IS ACCESSIBLE? YES!
AI understands that it’s not sufficient to merely collect and analyse information. The collected data must also be easily accessible to the concerned parties, so that it may be retrieved at any point of time when it’s required. And so, AI technology can be effectively applied to prepare repositories of data. It can be systematically stored in your systems and retrieved as and when required.
3. “EVENTUALLY, EVERYTHING CONNECTS…” AND AI CAN HELP YOU RECOGNIZE THESE PATTERNS!
“Eventually, everything connects…” is a statement by Charles Eames. And as an investigator, it is important to recognize these intricate connections. This helps one to connect two and two together and complete the whole picture. However, a lot of times, patterns can be very specific and complex and thus difficult to keep track of. This is why investigators often take the help of modern technology to recognize such patterns. AI technology can help with patterns such as identifying different elements of one image; detecting patterns in emails and messages; and matching new information with different types of existing data in the system databases. It can also help with matching suspect information with the existing criminal records and intimating investigators of any previous criminal activity that the concerned suspect may have been involved in.
4. “BUT…WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE?” ASKED EVERY INVESTIGATOR EVER.
Yes, we’re talking evidence – the most crucial aspect of every criminal investigation. Without sufficient evidence, every hypothesis and argument may be rightly negated, however relevant or evident it may intuitively appear. And AI technology can contribute significantly to the investigator’s constant quest for evidence. For example, it can produce case stories and graphics of hypothetical scenarios which can help investigators analyze the given premise in the right direction. Moreover, the various statistical tools offered by AI help to formulate logical evidences that aid successful investigations of criminal cases.
5. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT GATHERING AND STORING DATA…AI CAN BE QUITE AN ANALYST, TOO!
We know that non-AI computational techniques also exist in analyzing information. However, these methods may often not cater to large volumes of data. And that’s where AI technology steps in. Artificial Intelligence can help investigators analyze large chunks of data by applying statistical and probability-based principles. Here’s where data mining comes in handy. This process involves the discovery of patterns in data with the help of machine learning and statistical tools. Data mining can be of considerable assistance to the crime branch.
So there! That was our list of contributions that AI can make to the field of forensic science and criminal investigation. Criminology and forensics is not only about applying various techniques and analyzing evidences to reach logical inferences – it also involves intuition, keen observation skills and sensitivity. And technology is a poor substitute when it comes to these typically human qualities. So, as long as criminal investigation exists, humans will be extensively required in this challenging field. Let us leave you with a quote from “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”, a story from the renowned Sherlock Holmes collection:
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”