Project leveraging AI to scan and translate Vatican texts dating back to the 8th century

The Vatican Secret Archives sound like a joint that'd give Illuminati conspiracy junkies feverish wet dreams. The site, which sits kitty corner to the Vatican's Apostolic Library, is a treasure trove of Catholic Church documents: over 50 linear miles of that letters, books and papal bulls, some of which date back to the eighth century, to be exact. 

Too bad that you could jam the number of scholastically accessible information in the VSA could be jammed up a gnat's ass and it'd look like a BB in a boxcar.

Y'see, most of what's there is priceless. You'd be a nut to allow folks in to view it on a regular basis, for fear of it being damaged. Those responsible for the VSA have, in the past, made half-assed attempts to scan and translate a small number of the Archive's documents. But remember, we're talking OVER 50 MILES of shelves chockablock with missives, notes and tomes. It'd take a fortune (which the Vatican totally has, I suppose) and an unknowable amount of time to collate, translate and scan everything into a usable format.

According to The Atlantic, computer scientists love challenges like this. A new project called In Codice Ratio is working towards using Artificial Intelligence to understand and translate the Archive's contents using OCR so that the information can be plopped into text documents for humanities scholars to use in their studies. It's tough to do! OCR is notoriously bad at translating handwriting, let alone script which, in some cases, was written in a dead language. Read the rest