AI preserving Holocaust stories

3D holograms and #AI are preserving Holocaust survivors’ stories

Aaron Elster hid in an attic for two years to escape the Holocaust. Alster died two years back. Not his story. Machine learning and artificial intelligence has created holograms of survivors’ stories that audiences will be able to interact with and question for years to come.

The AI project is created by a foundation setup by ‘Schindler’s List’ director Steven Spielberg to record the testimonies of thousands of Holocaust survivors. The objective is to allow meaningful conversations with Holocaust survivors, even after the survivors themselves are gone. Of the more than 20 men and women who’d participated, four have passed away already.

How is the experience?
“The conversations feel so normal we could almost forget we were talking to the digital image of someone who was no longer living.”

How well does it perform?
“.. couple of things about artificial intelligence. It is mainly artificial and not so intelligent. But the beauty of artificial intelligence is it develops over time. So we aren’t changing the content. All the answers remain the same. But over time, the range of questions that you can ask will be enhanced considerably.”

Here’s what’s happening behind the screen.
Interview recordings are made. Each of the answers is then isolated and sent to a database. The researchers think about an additional variety of questions that people might ask to trigger the same response. So for every question asked, a manual entry of about15 extra questions is made because there are different ways of asking the same question. The system is trained accordingly. Ultimately, when you ask a question, the algorithm looks through all the questions in the database, and brings back what it thinks is the closest answer to the question.

Let’s ask Elster how he survived those years in the attic-
“I had the ability to daydream,” Elster’s digital image says “I used to write novels in my head. I was the hero all the time. And we have that ability to either give in to our misery and our pain and die or absorb the physical pain by keep your mentality, keep your soul, keep your mind. So was I bored? Was I scared? Was I in need of somebody to accept me or to tell me that I’m okay, that I’m a nice kid? Sure. But that was not part of my life.

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