How AI is Helping to Preserve the Past

Artificial Intelligence, also called AI, has become important in helping with digital advertising, medicine, chatbots, factories, and many other places. While AI has been shown to increase efficiency and optimize processes, it is also showing success in other fields. From archaeology to police work, AI is starting to be used to better preserve our past. Below are three examples involving AI in new fields that you might not expect.

AI in Archaeology

AI has been found to make a significant improvement in optimizing certain archaeological processes. Using algorithms, AI can analyze satellite data and images to successfully find new archaeological sites. This helps to quicken the pace of the research, avoiding archeologists scrambling to find new dig sites. Ph.D. candidate at Penn State, Dylan Davis, developed some of the predictive algorithms used in finding new historical settlements in Madagascar made by prehistoric North American peoples. Davis programmed the AI algorithms using LiDAR (radar overland using laser pulses) to discover these sites.

AI is also being used in archaeology to determine the chemical and biological makeup of structures. Google’s Deep Mind AI was able to help determine specific inscriptions on Greek artifacts. Archaeologists are using AI to determine the materials in ceramics, jewelry, and other artifacts. The AI company Inspur was helpful in analyzing ancient DNA from old samples. In 2019, the Inspur lab helped decipher the entire genome of an ancient wheat sample, helping researchers to better understand the history of agriculture. One study found that over 65 archaeological papers published in 2019 used AI and that the number would steadily increase.

AI in Music

AI is not only being used to find and catalog historical artifacts but is also helping to recover lost music. In 2020, a group of researchers from Harvard University decided to use AI to finish the incomplete 10th symphony composed by Ludwig Beethoven. Previous attempts to finish the symphony were unsuccessful, as Beethoven left only a few bars of written music behind after he died. In completing the unfinished symphony, the researchers had to input data from Beethoven’s previous works, particularly his most famous 5th symphony. After the AI-generated music from the inputted data, an orchestra trialed the new symphony. The research was an overall success, as the symphony became public. You can listen to it here.

AI in Crime Scene Analysis

The benefits AI brings not only open the door to the ancient past but to more recent acts. According to the National Institute of Justice, AI is being implemented in some police departments to help speed up crime detection. This is because much of police work is full of data analysis, which AI can significantly speed up. The NIJ believes that AI can help to better analyze the data left behind at a crime scene, such as DNA and gunshot detection. DNA analysis can slow down an investigation significantly, which is why AI can be used to detect DNA patterns and help determine potential suspects. Gunshot detection, from audio sources, can be difficult for investigators to analyze. An NIJ-funded research lab is developing algorithms for AI to use to determine gunshots, the number of firearms present, which shots came from which firearms, and more. AI has also been looked at for public safety with facial recognition. However, for all of these applications, the data would need to be as unbiased or non-contaminated as possible in order to avoid wrongful convictions or other problems.

As AI becomes more integrated into our society, there will be more uses for it in different and new fields like the three mentioned above. These fields illustrate the power and potential AI has in making our society and research more optimized and efficient, leading to a faster advancement of knowledge.


Elgammal, Ahmed. 2021. “How a Team of Musicologists and Computer Scientists Completed Beethoven’s Unfinished 10th Symphony.” The Conversation. September 24, 2021.

Nelson, Daniel. 2020. “AI Is Dramatically Changing Archaeology, Discovering New Sites and Artifacts.” Unite.AI. May 14, 2020.

Rigano, Christopher. 2018. “Using Artificial Intelligence to Address Criminal Justice Needs.” National Institute of Justice. October 8, 2018.

“Uncovering the Ancient Past with Inspur AI and Biomolecular Archaeology.” 2021. Inspur Systems. September 3, 2021

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