Mori Magazine

Can AI be taught to read and transcribe handwritten documents like wills?

Can AI be taught to read and transcribe handwritten documents like wills?


Can AI Be Taught to Read Handwritten Documents?

Deciphering handwritten documents like wills, letters, and diaries has historically required human eyes. But advancements in artificial intelligence are bringing machines closer to mastering this very human skill.

The question is: can AI systems effectively read and transcribe messy, ambiguous handwriting the way people can? The technology is not quite there yet, but researchers are actively exploring new machine learning techniques to crack the code of human penmanship.

One major challenge is teaching AI the contextual understanding required to recognize different writing styles, formats, and even things like regional dialects in cursive writing. Unlike clean printed text, handwritten documents have no standard format that's easy for computers to model.

However, we are seeing progress in areas like signature verification, where AI systems can validate that a signature matches its reference sample. This could help prevent forgeries and errors when processing handwritten legal paperwork.

And while reading full, free-flowing cursive documents remains difficult, researchers are feeding neural networks thousands of handwritten samples to steadily improve their recognition abilities. The hope is that one day, AI assistants can fully automate the transcription of historical journals, PROC legal documents, and more.

For now though, AI still lacks the innate human abilities needed to reliably read the messiest of scribbled documents. But rapid advances in machine learning suggest it's only a matter of time before computers can be trained to fill this very human skill gap.

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