Google uses AI to help the New York Times digitize 5 million historical photos

New York Times does not hold organs in its "morgue" – it holds pictures. In a basement under his Times Square office, filled in cabinets and drawers, it Times Saves between 5 million and 7 million images along with information about when they were published and why. Now the paper works with Google to digitize its huge collection.

Morguehuset (as the basement storage area is known) contains pictures dating back to the 19th century, many of which are nowhere in the world. "[It’s] a treasure chest of perishable documents, "says NEWS top technology officer Nick Rockwell. "An invaluable chronicle of not only timesS history, but of almost more than a century of global events that have shaped our modern world. "

Therefore, the company has hired Google, which uses its machine vision smartness to not only scan the hand and typed notes associated with each image, but categorize the semantic information they contain (linking data as places and dates). Google says Times will also be able to use its recognition tools to extract even more information from the images, making them easier to catalog and restore for future use.

Okay, so it's basically just news about Google that land a renowned client for its digitalization services. (And the photos will not even be available to the public, as they were when Google was working Time magazine's archive.) But it's still a nice insight into the story of Times, and it shows how AI can make this kind of conservation effort richer and more accessible.