Could AI Enhance Existing Genealogy Tools?
Genealogy has been revolutionized in recent years by DNA testing and analysis. Sites like AncestryDNA allow people to get their DNA tested and matched with potential relatives. However, making sense of DNA matches requires additional tools. Two popular options are DNA Painter and the What Are The Odds (WATO) relationship predictor. Could artificial intelligence take these kinds of tools to the next level?
DNA Painter allows users to visually map their DNA matches onto family trees. The tool provides a graphical interface to see how different matches may be related based on shared DNA segments. This helps genealogists hypothesize how matches might fit into their extended family. An AI assistant could potentially analyze all of a user's matches and automatically provide the most likely mappings in DNA Painter based on data patterns.
WATO uses statistical algorithms to predict possible relationships between DNA matches when the connection is uncertain. For example, it can calculate the odds that a match is a specific cousin type. An AI version could draw data from across testing services and family trees to provide more accurate relationship predictions customized to a user's pedigree.
The key strength of AI is finding insights in large messy data sets. As more people take DNA tests and build out their family trees online, there is an explosion of data to leverage. AI thrives on such large data pools. Any tool that compares DNA tests, family trees, historical records, and more could be augmented and automated using machine learning techniques.
Whether AI could enhance existing genealogical tools remains to be seen. But the raw materials are certainly present in the form of abundant DNA and genealogical data. The companies and open source projects that effectively tap AI to make sense of this information could lead the next wave of innovation in genetic genealogy analysis. Genealogists worldwide eagerly await breakthroughs that can save them time and give them new power to explore their ancestry.