Preserving history via Artificial Intelligence

This term, HSC History Extension students attended a seminar hosted by the Sydney Jewish Museum, exploring the museum’s role as a ‘history maker’ and the use of new artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which has been used to record and preserve Holocaust Survivor testimonials.

AI for digital testimonies

Over the past few years, the Sydney Jewish Museum has engaged in the Dimensions in Testimony filming project, documenting the testimony of six Holocaust survivors in three dimensions. Filmed over five days in 360 degrees by a custom-made ‘green screen’ rig of 23 cameras, the project allows the museum to transform survivors’ oral testimony using AI and language processing technologies into an interactive digital testimony.

While several AI interactive testimonies are already on display for the public in the museum’s Reverberations exhibition, students had the unique opportunity to beta-test the AI of Paul Drexler, a Slovakian Jewish man who was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp at the age of six. As Paul Drexler’s AI testimony is still being trained, students had the opportunity to ask questions and seek responses from the AI technology, allowing its language processing technology to be trained before its public display. Students gained significant insight into the cutting-edge technologies that museums employ to preserve history and memory, providing a rich case study for their History Extension course.