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Unleashing Forensic DNA through Computer Intelligence

M.W. Perlin, "Unleashing forensic DNA through computer intelligence", Forensic Europe Expo, Forensic Innovation Conference, London, United Kingdom, 24-Apr-2013.


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PowerPoint presentation with live audio recording of the Forensic Innovation Conference 2013 talk.



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Abstract

DNA is powerful, yet everywhere it is in chains. Biological evidence from explosives, murder weapons and rape kits that could identify true culprits is routinely collected and analyzed, but often never used. This investigative failure, and evidential defeat, occurs because the unassisted human mind cannot cope with the complexities of challenging DNA evidence.

These DNA challenges include (a) mixtures of two or more individuals, (b) small quantities of DNA, and (c) degraded or damaged DNA. Such challenges introduce interpretation uncertainty. Television drama DNA data looks obvious, and will uniquely identify a suspect. But real-world evidence can actually be consistent with many different individuals. Forensic experts cannot sort through these millions of possibilities, and so conclude very little - or say nothing at all. Thus, highly informative DNA evidence that could solve or prevent crime lies dormant and remains unused.

Computer intelligence can help people overcome these data challenges. Statistical search explores the vast space of genetic possibilities to find the likely solutions, and quantify their probability. An investigator can ask the computer forensically meaningful questions, and receive accurate, informative answers. Objective computation, examining only the evidence without ever looking at a suspect, ensures unbiased results.

Cybergenetics TrueAllele® Casework is the most sophisticated computer system available for this task. Starting with DNA data and forensic questions, TrueAllele produces reliable "probabilistic genotypes" for genetic identification. Unlike human expert approximations, the extensively validated TrueAllele strives to preserve all the identification information present in the data.

This information preservation means that a new kind of "probabilistic genotype" investigative DNA database can identify criminals, terrorists and missing people with far greater accuracy. In criminal cases, comparing a "probabilistic genotype" from evidence with a defendant provides a highly informative DNA match statistic. TrueAllele's computer intelligence can identify, implicate or exonerate, depending only the evidence, and is not influenced by a desired outcome.

TrueAllele has been used in over a hundred criminal cases, for both prosecution and defense. Crimes involve murder, rape, abduction and terror. The computer routinely resolves DNA evidence that is too challenging for human experts, including mixtures (containing 3, 4 or 5 individuals) and small amounts of degraded DNA. For example, Cybergenetics TrueAllele reanalysis of the World Trade Center victim remains data involved highly damaged DNA.

This talk shows on actual cases how TrueAllele computer intelligence unleashes the full investigative power of DNA evidence. Representative crimes include murder, rape, gangs and terror. By enhancing human expertise with computer intelligence, the true potential of DNA identification can be harnessed to better protect the public from crime.