We are our distinct and unique cultures, histories and languages. In today’s ever-increasingly globalized world, we must act as guardians of the unique cultural heritage that forms the basis of our identities.
New technologies are facilitating this arduous task. The architect of the future, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can lead the way in preserving our distinct cultural heritage for the next generations.
Just over a year old, AI start-up IVOW has a mission to “bring the ancient art of storytelling into your smart home devices.” IVOW is busy developing a chatbot that will record and share users’ stories.
“I have come to realize there is a gaping hole in AI algorithms that will define our future stories -- the lack of creative and prolific content on cultures and heritage,” says Iran Davar Ardalan, who founded IVOW after over 20 years as a journalist at NPR News. “Effective fusion of AI with cultural storytelling will help diminish bias in algorithmic identification and train AI software to be much more inclusive.”
This involves training IVOW’s “Culturally Sensitive Deep Learning model” on different images in order for it to suggest detailed captions, generated by natural language processing algorithms that reflect cultural elements of a photo.
“It’s very important that we make sure that those least advantaged and often ‘unheard’ are able to tell their stories using their eyes and voice,” said Ellen Yount, Vice President of Management Systems International (MSI), at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Culture Symposium co-hosted by Morgan State University and IVOW in April 2018. “Looking at the role that AI plays in that journey is critical.”
Researchers are also looking into the way AI can shape narratives of the past.
The international research teams involved in the open-source Time Machine project aim to not only digitize huge amounts of information currently stored in archives and museums but to then use AI to analyze the data to reconstruct 2000 years of European history with a “Large Scale Historical Simulator”. This project, which has just secured 1 million Euros in funding from the European Union, would serve as a time capsule to facilitate exploration of the cultural, economic, and historical development of European cities, vastly improving our current understanding.
“Any records that were kept before 2000 basically don’t exist, because we have no means of viewing them,” says Frédéric Kaplan, Director of EPFL’s Digital Humanities Laboratory. “We urgently need to bring our archives into the digital age. We mustn’t lose contact with the past.”
Kaplan leads the prototype Venice Time Machine project, which analyzes 1000 years of the city’s history, trade routes, art and impact on the history and culture of the rest of Europe.
In order to digitize millions of manuscripts, multidisciplinary teams of researchers created semi-automatic scanners, robotic page-turners, and even an automatic handwriting recognition system to transcribe annotations. This data will eventually be searchable in an engine called Canvas, and authorized users will be able to edit scanning mistakes, increasing the accuracy of the information.
Amsterdam, Nuremberg, Paris, Jerusalem, Budapest and Naples have already begun their digitizing initiatives with the aim of developing their own time machines.
Julia Noordegraaf, Professor of Heritage and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, is working on her city’s time machine. “Heritage is our ‘cultural DNA’: material objects (artworks, monuments) and immaterial forms of heritage (values, ideas) are the essential building blocks of local, national, or transnational identities and indispensable for preparing individuals and societies for an uncertain future,” she says.
AI can even preserve an architectural heritage for future generations.
Stretching over 20,000 kilometers, the Great Wall of China presents a daunting challenge to architects and historians working on its preservation. Certain areas are difficult to reach, and a manual examination of the Wall would be very tedious. Intel recently teamed up with the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation to use the latest drone technology to gather thousands of photos and then analyze the data with AI to pinpoint exact areas in the Wall that need restoration.
“With precise information about where repairs are needed and what is required, the work can be done much more quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively”, explains Alyson Griffin, Intel’s Vice President, global brand and thought leadership marketing.
This technology can be applied to commercial projects, too. Anil Nanduri, VP and general manager of Intel’s drone group, explains: “The focus for us is on automation and commercial applications, where a high amount of data has to be collected and analyzed like industrial inspections, infrastructure like bridges, oil refineries, transmission towers — these hard to reach, complex locations where using a person is very difficult.”
The global “founding” forum in the AI for Good worldwide movement is the AI for Good Global Summit hosted by the UN ITU with participation by government, industry, academia, media and more than 30 UN Agency partners together with the ACM and XPRIZE. The forum spotlights a day-long track on AI Culture with a strong focus on the intersection of AI and culture/arts, is non-commercial, open collaboration, so free to participate for the 1500 that can get a coveted registration pass. Amongst the notable keynotes, there is Jean-Philippe Courtois Microsoft's international President of Global Sales, marketing and Operations for 122 subsidiaries worldwide.
Stephen Ibaraki, columnist and advisor, is a social entrepreneur and futurist, and chairs REDDS Capital. With more than 100 top executive roles, global lifetime achievement and innovation awards and recognitions, a few of executive chairman, investor, venture capitalist, and serial entrepreneur, Stephen Ibaraki's positions include: Practitioner Board Association for Computing Machinery past chair; founding chair Global Industry Council and vice-chair board IP3 International Federation for Information Processing; top 5 blogger IDG-IT World (Canada); founding managing general partner REDDS Capital (Venture Investment Partners) and founding chairman investment committee REDDS VC Fund; founder technology advisory board, Yintech Investment Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ); founding member Beyond Initiative (VW/Audi AI Think Tank); founding chairman outreach UN ITU "ICT Discovery" Journal; founder and chairman outreach UN ITU AI for Good Global Summit with XPRIZE Foundation, 20 UN Agency partners, 47 media; keynote at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE Austin USA); keynote UNIDO General Conference Industry 4.0 (Vienna); organizer and host speaker Wuzhen Summit World Internet Conference AI Forum (WIC: 1500 CEOs/leaders); speaker UN GA Second Committee & ECOSOC Joint Session (New York, Future of Everything); founding chairman Technology Advisory Council Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) FinTech Ideas Festival (200 CEOs/Execs, FSR: $92.7 trillion managed assets, $1.2 trillion annual revenue); founding chair advisory board and keynote Digital Africa on Industry/Nation 4.0 (2016, 2017); invited advisor on Nation 4.0 and board member within IEEE; 14 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Global Awards (Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, "We recognize and value your exceptional contributions and commitment to technical communities worldwide. By sharing your real world expertise and technical skills, you demonstrate outstanding technical community leadership. Thank you.") and 3 global gold awards; 3 founding Fellow awards; ... There is much more information as nominated founding fellow, past board chair and president government-chartered Canadian Information Processing Society http://www.cips.ca/stephen-ibaraki.