Algorithms already play a significant role in helping digital forensics investigators analyze the vast amount of data that is created by mobile devices and stored on the cloud. Like many industries, demand outstrips supply when it comes to qualified, trained professionals who can sift through the backlog of digital forensics data relevant to modern criminal cases. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help automate some processes and more quickly flag content or insights that would otherwise take investigators longer to uncover.
It’s a bit like the show Mindhunter on Netflix, which tells the story of the first psychological profiling that helped coin the term “serial killer” and establish a new methodology for tracking criminals and identifying behavioral patterns early on. AI is another tool in the toolbox that is helping law enforcement agencies (and corporate in-house investigators) comb through the available data for insights—digital needles in the proverbial haystack.
AI functions can help with spotting and identifying elements in photos and videos, observing commonalities in communication, location, and times, and based on history, make educated guesses about where and when the next incident or crime might occur.
That being said, there is a trust factor to overcome with AI in digital evidence in criminal investigations. When evidence in a case is presented, the attorneys, judges, and jury members must grasp the broad concept of artificial intelligence in order to accept and feel comfortable with it’s growing role in digital forensics and in many modern criminal investigations. Just human logic on complex decisions can be traced back and debated on any particular issue, it’s imperative that AI functions have logs and so its conclusions are transparent and can be fully litigated.
And all of that is to say that human beings will still have a role in criminal investigations. AI is a tool, but it’s not an investigator. We’re far away from that, if we ever get there at all. So while it’s important to understand and harness this tool, it’s equally not to conflate AI as analogous to an investigator.