Google is using AI to help The New York Times digitize 5 million historical photos

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<em>The front and back of a sample photo from The Morgue. It shows Penn Station in 1942, with the clippings on the back taken from captions in the paper. </em>

The New York Times doesn’t keep bodies in its “morgue” — it keeps pictures. In a basement under its Times Square office, stuffed into cabinets and drawers, the Times stores between 5 million and 7 million images, along with information about when they were published and why. Now, the paper is working with Google to digitize its huge collection.

The morgue (as the basement storage area is known) contains pictures going back to the 19th century, many of which exist nowhere else in the world. “[It’s] a treasure trove of perishable documents,” says the NYT’s chief technology officer Nick Rockwell. “A priceless chronicle of not just The Times’s history, but of nearly more than a century of global events that have shaped our modern world.”

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