A specialized machine learning algorithm is helping police in Italy to see what criminals who have been on the run for many years probably look like now.
Human artists have traditionally been employed to “age” fugitives that have been in the wind for years or for persons that have been missing for many years. They would use their artistic skills to alter old photos of the suspect – adding wrinkles, hair loss, and other common aspects of aging. More recently, computer programs have been employed to do that kind of thing, but still, these programs had their limitations because they were based on the same kind of generalizations about how people age.
Just look at any two persons who are in their 60s – one could look like a decrepit old man and the other a distinguished movie star. That is because everyone ages differently, and many factors impact facial aging.
The influence of nature and nurture can make it tricky to accurately predict how someone may look in the future – even for a computer. Law enforcement authorities and forensic scientists are now turning to AI to more accurately “age” people and help police track down criminals who have remained at large for many years.
AI goes way beyond traditional artist’s renderings to “age” suspects or missing children and is even better than standard computerized methods of doing so. AI for adding years to a facial image leverages AI’s deep neural networks and machine learning capabilities.
In this case, the algorithms are trained with, or shown, a large sample of pictures in pairs, showing the same person at two different ages, and then they “learn” to do what is called “age-mapping” – producing an older image when they have been given the young one.
Unlike a traditional computer program that can be used to “age-up” a person or photograph by extrapolating the average transformation of a face in terms of age, AI does that, but is also capable of learning much more detail – for example, whether a certain sort of face will age in a particular way.
The Italian police recently arrested Matteo Messina Denaro, the alleged leader of the Sicilian Mafia, who has been on the run since 1993. To aid in the search, the Carabinieri issued just such an AI-generated aged image to show what he might look like now.
The 60-year-old Messina Denaro was a leading figure in Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather movies.
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The way that the authorities in Italy are using AI to age fugitives on the run is just one way that law enforcement worldwide is starting to embrace AI technologies. This also speaks to how AI and machine learning are finding uses in applications as varied as fighting cancer to catching criminals. As AI improves, there will hardly be any industry that cannot take advantage of its power.
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Rohit Mahajan is a Managing Partner with BigRio. He has a particular expertise in the development and design of innovative solutions for clients in Healthcare, Financial Services, Retail, Automotive, Manufacturing, and other industry segments.
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