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Can AI help to decode the Voynich Manuscript?


Posted on Monday, 29 January, 2018 | Comment icon 8 comments

Can an AI decipher the mysteries of the manuscript ? Image Credit: PD
Scientists at the University of Alberta have applied artificial intelligence to the long-running mystery.
The enigmatic codex, which was first discovered in an Italian monastery by book dealer Wilfrid Voynich back in 1912, contains 240 pages of strange, indecipherable characters and images.

Written on fine calfskin parchment, the book has been dated back to the 15th century, however the meaning of its strange language and accompanying illustrations has long remained a mystery.

Now though, new clues have been discovered thanks to computing science professor Greg Kondrak and graduate student Bradley Hauer who have used the famous manuscript as a case study in their research involving the use of artificial intelligence to decode ambiguities in human language.

The process, which involved using samples of 400 different languages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, revealed that the mysterious manuscript is most likely written in Hebrew.

"That was surprising," said Kondrak.

The two researchers concluded that the manuscript's text had been created using alphagrams (which define one phrase with another) and set about developing an algorithm to decipher it.

The results, when combined with Google Translate, were quite promising.

"It came up with a sentence that is grammatical, and you can interpret it," said Kondrak. "'She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.'"

"It's a kind of strange sentence to start a manuscript but it definitely makes sense."

Source: Phys.org | Comments (8)

Tags: Voynich Manuscript

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by DebDandelion on 26 January, 2018, 15:44
Interesting read. Just occurred to me we might be putting a lot of effort Into a book that might be someone's journal/a possible work of fiction ...maybe that's the first novel ever written. Then again, we are making a computer translate with no guarantee that language translated was the actual intention of the written text.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Podo on 26 January, 2018, 19:23
"Vowels had been dropped." This sentence confuses me, because semitic languages are never written with vowels to begin with. Even modern Hebrew and Arabic are written without vowels; it is a standard feature of such languages.
Comment icon #3 Posted by godnodog on 29 January, 2018, 20:12
I seriously doubt the book content is real, hopefully this will finally end the mystery
Comment icon #4 Posted by The Narcisse on 30 January, 2018, 14:15
I always hoped it would be deciphered and end up being an epic troll job and have nothing of real substance to it. Maybe even just the emo rantings of an old timey 13 year old.
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer on 30 January, 2018, 18:31
Hebrew, huh?  I still wonder about all the plant illustrations.  I wonder if the AI analysis can make any sense of them.
Comment icon #6 Posted by DieChecker on 31 January, 2018, 0:53
Interesting ideas. I'd put this possibility of decoding the book into the category of a firm... Maybe.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Trelane on 1 February, 2018, 0:25
Wouldn't it be worth a shot to have IBM's Blue Gene to take a crack at it?
Comment icon #8 Posted by TripGun on 5 February, 2018, 18:17
It is written by the smartest idiot who had no clue on modern literacy. I should know as I too am the smartest idiot I know.


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