The Rise of AI in Information Extraction
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has become increasingly adept at extracting and interpreting information from large datasets like archives and obituaries. With advanced natural language processing and machine learning techniques, AI systems can now analyze massive amounts of unstructured text data and identify key information with high accuracy.
One common application is using AI to extract structured data from obituaries. Obituaries contain a wealth of information about a person's life, family, education, career, interests, and more. However, this information is embedded in free-form text and needs to be extracted and organized to be useful for genealogy research or demographic analysis. AI systems can be trained to identify relevant entities like names, dates, locations, family relations, occupations, and causes of death. This extracted data can then be structured into a searchable database.
Studies have found AI obituary data extraction to have 85-95% accuracy for basic information like names, birth/death dates and locations. Performance is lower for more complex relations like identifying spouses and children, with 70-80% accuracy. Accuracy depends on the training data size and quality, the obituary source, and writing conventions. More advanced AI models continue to improve accuracy on complex extraction tasks.
Beyond obituaries, AI techniques are being applied to extract information from all types of archives - from historic newspapers and journals to government records. The natural language capabilities of deep learning algorithms allow them to analyze documents spanning decades or centuries, identifying useful metadata and relationships. This is transforming archive research, unlocking insights faster than ever possible manually.
However, AI still has limitations in comprehending nuance, ambiguity, and context when interpreting text. Human oversight remains important in reviewing and refining AI-generated data from archives to ensure high quality. As the technology progresses, AI promises to uncover new knowledge from humanity's vast archives at unprecedented scale. But human contextual understanding still complements the strengths of AI text analysis. Combining the two will enable more accurate and enriched information extraction from archives in the future.