Voynich manuscript, the ancient text that no one till date has been able to understand, not even the famous Enigma code breakers, could be on its way to be decrypted – thanks to the wonders of artificial intelligence.
Greg Kondrak, a computer scientist from University of Alberta's AI lab, claims to have begun decoding the mystery behind the unknown text with his novel algorithm, CTVNews reported.
Dating back to the 15th century, the Voynich manuscript has puzzled generations of some of the finest code-breakers, including the team that cracked the Nazis' Enigma code.
The 240-page book, discovered in 1912, is heavily illustrated with pictures of naked women bathing in water bodies, weird plants, alien planets but no one could ever decipher the exact meaning of those symbols or the language written.
It is believed that the manuscript is somehow related to women's health but there is no solid clue, according to the report. People have made wild guesses regarding the code, with at least eight making firm claims – only to be debunked later on.
Kondark, however, took a different approach towards solving the problem – artificial intelligence. "Once you see it, once you find out the mystery, this is a natural human tendency to solve the puzzle," the computer scientist told CTVNews. "I was intrigued and thought I could contribute something new."
He and his co-author Bradley Hauer combined novel AI algorithms with statistical procedures to identify and translate the language. The approach, which had been used to translate United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 380 languages, came in handy and suggested the language was Hebrew, albeit with critical tweaks.
They found that the letters in every word had been reordered and the vowels were dropped in the code. The first complete sentence which the AI decrypted read, "She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people." One section of the text carries words that translate into "farmer", "light", "air", and "fire".
The translated line could be the starting of something big but it is a long way to go for Kondark, who stresses on the need of complementary human assistance. However, it is not clear how accurate the translation really is.
"Somebody with very good knowledge of Hebrew and who's a historian at the same time could take this evidence and follow this kind of clue," he said while highlighting the need of someone who could make sense of the translated text.