Tag Archive | i4GG

Using AI for Genealogy by Steve Little

One of the most unusual talks at the recent i4GG conference (videos coming soon) was the one about the use of AI for genealogy by Steve Little, the AI program director for the National Genealogical Society (NGS).  I learned that it was how you phrased your question that could lead to more accurate answers, e.g. “you are a professional genealogist … ” I found out that AI, particularly the paid versions, could extract text from documents, even handwritten ones and translate in context. Here is my favorite slide from that talk. Personally my first impression of ChatGPT had been that it was great at sounding good while making stuff up.

Slide from Steve Little’s talk, used by permission

Steve will be speaking at RootsTech at 8 am Thursday this week and will also be available at the NGS booth as per his post on FaceBook.

Amusingly, in my own talk about using bioancestry to solve unknown parentage cases, I had experimented with using AI generated images to illustrate a few of my points. For example, when I asked the deepAI image generator for a Hungarian violinist I got this image whose hands are imperfect, but it still adds pizzazz to the slide.

No sooner has my favorite DNA conference (i4GG) ended, than it is time to get ready for Rootstech! No I won’t be there in person this year, too much to do to prepare for our move to Connecticut. Hope everyone has a great time. I will attend virtually, so if you are logged in there, you can click here to see if you are related to me! As all my ancestors are fairly recent immigrants (earliest 1860s), I have only 434 relatives at Rootstech, the closest being a fifth cousin. Oh well.

What’s new at GEDmatch and i4GG

Every year genetic genealogists gather in San Diego in February for the i4GG conference founded by CeCe Moore and Dr. Tim Janzen. This year is the tenth anniversary and I am honored to be one of the presenters again. Click here for the i4GG web site.

In past years I have talked about the new features at GEDmatch. In 2022, this was a particularly dense lecture. (click here for the slides), as there were so many new and enhanced features. Clustering was taking the community by storm and GEDmatch has two versions of that, one of which even includes tree building.

{UPDATE 9 Feb 2024] My talk for i4GG this year is about how to use Ethnicity to solve DNA cases. This year, I will talk about GEDmatch yet again, but as there are fewer new features, I will include some of the ways that site has helped me solve DNA puzzles.

One nice new feature is that the site now sends you an email when you have a new match. You can select both the frequency of those emails and the match size which triggers an email.

Whenever I get a new match on the One-to-Many, the first thing I want to see is who else they match among my relatives, so it has always puzzled me why they did not include a button to do that. Needless to say this was a feature I requested. Now it is finally here! There is a column called ICW tool which has the word Match which when clicked takes you to the function People who match both, or 1 of 2 kits with the kit numbers filled in, ready to use.

 One-to-Many image showing new ICW tool

middle section of the free version of One-to-Many limited version


Come to my lecture to hear more!

Conferences Galore!

The largest genealogy conference in the world, Rootstech is virtual and free again this year. It starts in just a few hours!

For genetic genealogists, i4GG is on again for April 9-10 in San Diego in person, thanks to CeCe Moore. The East Coast is going to have its own genetic genealogy conference, now virtual, ECGGC on April 23-24. Click any name in the preceding to go to the conference site and yes I will be presenting at all of them.

For Rootstech, my recorded talk delves into the details of the case where I found a jewish sperm donor; click here for that or here for the blog post. My very basic talk on using DNA to figure out unknown parentage, which I did for them last year, is still on youtube (click here). Roberta Estes has written a number of helpful posts about Rootstech 2022 – one on how to navigate the website and find what you want (click here) and several on using the find your relatives app  (click here and here)

For i4GG I usually present what’s new at GEDmatch and sometimes more about the latest tools for finding unknown parentage. My 2020 live i4GG talks can still be purchased with all the other great ones from that wonderful last conference before COVID at https://i4gg.org/2020-videos/

At the brand new East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference (ECGGC), I will give some of my favorite and newly revised talks, live but virtual. The titles below link to the previous versions of my slides but I will make a note here when the slides are updated.

Getting the scoop on new GEDmatch features over lunch with Verogen’s Tom and Brett

I4GG 2020 round up

My favorite yearly conference is the two days of talks that i4GG puts together for us serious genetic genealogists. Thank you CeCe and Lennart for doing this and for making the very professional videos, which are free to conference attendees and available for purchase by everyone else.

One of the highlights of the conference was hearing from Paul Fronczak and his daughter. Paul was the child returned to his parents after the famous Chicago baby-napping case in 1964. In 2012 a DNA test showed that he was not their child. His book The Foundling, about his search for his roots, his missing twin sister, and the real Paul Fronczak, is a terrific read. (click here for the BBC summary of the case)

I have just started using a great tool called Scapple, that I learned about from Michelle Trostler‘s talk. So far I love it! It is an inexpensive mind mapping package that makes it super easy to quickly put together possible family charts for clients. It is always pleasurable to hear about actual cases and how they were solved. Both Michelle and Carol Rolnick obliged.

Chaos ensued when Katherine Borges, the director of ISOGG (whose Wiki is my go to resource), told us about the FamilySearch app with “Relatives Around Me” on its menu towards the end of her epigenetics talk. Everyone was downloading it to their smartphones and running around finding their cousins. I discovered many 12th cousins, including Tim Janzen, from a dubious connection that needs more research, a Thomas Gray who went to Norway and became Graa. Sadly I never did find my real 8th cousin Dixie Hansen in the room!

I presented on What’s New at GEDmatch and also about Automated Tree Building Tools, focusing on DNA2tree, as Dana Leeds was covering Genetic Affairs (GA) which she did quite well. I do have a blog post on GA in progress, it now includes GEDCOMs with the tree building! As always my slides can be found at https://slides.com/kittycooper

The biggest take away from the conference for me was that we all need to be more diligent in getting our relatives to opt in to law enforcement (LE) usage on GEDmatch
. Many of the cases that have been solved with genetic genealogy could not be done today now that the usable database for LE investigations is down to about 200K from over a million before the opt in requirement.

Also perhaps we need a team to identify kits of people who are deceased. GEDmatch will opt them in if presented with an obituary.

I am also putting together a new email message to send to reluctant cousins appealing to their desire to be good citizens.

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Upcoming talks, i4GG, and a case solved using the latest DNA tools

Unknown parentage searches have changed dramatically over the last year thanks to a number of great new automated tools. I will be updating my presentation on this for the upcoming i4GG conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks, the first weekend in February. I will also probably talk about what’s new at GEDmatch as well as be on a panel there.

Plus I will present how to use these new wonderful tools to explore your cousin matches at the North County DIG meeting next Saturday, January 18.

Below is a screen shot of the final slide in my unknown parentage presentation where I list the steps, in order, that I currently go through on these searches. I need to add at the beginning another step, “check the ethnicity,” as it can be a huge clue when the two parents are descended from very different populations. Click here for a recent blog post on a case solved with ethnicity. Also I have found that the listed communities at Ancestry are pretty accurate so they can be quite useful too.

Finding an unknown father in a few hours with DNA has become much more common due to the large number of American testers. A neighbor, let’s call her Dede, noticed I was a genealogist on FaceBook, so contacted me for help late one evening in December. She asked if I could help figure out who her unknown Dad was from her DNA results. She was a bit discouraged because no one had answered her messages.

Dede was tested on Ancestry and although her mother was not tested, a known maternal first cousin happened to be in her match list. That would be useful for separating the maternal from the paternal matches. Dede’s ethnicity had a surprisingly high 47% German percentage while her first cousin had only 27% . Plus that cousin had no Eastern Europe (Dede 10%) or Baltic (Dede 3%) so perhaps Dede’s father was part Germanic and Slavic.

Dede’s ethnicity at Ancestry  – note the Kentucky community

I took a quick look at her Ancestry match list and saw several paternal 2nd and 3rd cousin matches so I told her that it would be pretty easy, then quoted her my discount rates and a estimate. The next day I sent her the wedding picture of her father’s parents. She and her family drove to Oregon after Christmas to get to know her half sister and Dad. What a magical Holiday it was for all!
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