Tecnología

In New Orleans, Artificial Intelligence makes it possible to have virtual conversations with witnesses of the Second World War

Since Wednesday, March 20, in New Orleans, the World War II Museum has been offering the “Voices from the Front” exhibition with technology that may be found in other museums. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to interact with veterans and witnesses of the war of 39-45.

The visitor sits in front of a screen, chooses who they want to talk to and the person appears in real size on the screen, comfortably seated in front of a black background. The visitor asks the questions they want and the person on the screen responds after a slight pause, while the artificial intelligence analyzes the question and constructs the most appropriate answer possible, from its database. The project took four years of work. A group of 18 survivors of the Second World War had to be asked and recorded, sometimes up to 1,000 questions. Veterans but also Americans who experienced the conflict from the United States. Over time, the exposure will somehow improve because as always with artificial intelligence, the accumulation of content makes it progress, which means that over time, the answers will be better better suited to the questions asked.

It’s a good way to bring alive the memories of a war to which there are fewer and fewer witnesses. Since its opening, the World War II museum has opened its doors to volunteer veterans to tell visitors about their experiences, but obviously, they are getting older. Covid has unfortunately hit this generation hard, the museum points out to the Associated Press agency. Interactive interviews are not new to museums, whether American or not, but they are generally recorded responses to a programmed question. There, the visitor formulates the question in his own way and the artificial intelligence understands it.

Without making a Prévert-style inventory of all the 18 participants in the project, we find, for example, Olin Pickens, 102 years old today, former prisoner of war after his capture in Tunisia in 1943. Or even Theodore Britton, one one of the first black recruits to the Marine Corps and appointed ambassador after the war. Hershel Williams fought at Iwo Jima in Japan and recorded his responses while wearing his Medal of Honor, the highest award for an American serviceman. He died in June 2022 after recording his responses. As it is not just about the soldiers on the front, we can also listen to the story of Grace Brown, who manufactured spare parts for the Boeing B-17 bomber, or of Margaret Kerry, dancer in events organized by the army to entertain the troops before serving as a model for Tinkerbell in Walt Disney’s Peter Pan.

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