New Dimensions in Testimony: Digitally Preserving a Holocaust Survivor’s Interactive Storytelling
We describe a digital system that allows people to have an interactive conversation with a human storyteller (a Holocaust survivor) who has recorded a number of dialogue contributions, including many compelling narratives of his experiences and thoughts. The goal is to preserve as much as possible of the experience of face-to-face interaction. The survivor’s stories, answers to common questions, and testimony are recorded in high fidelity, and then delivered interactively to an audience as responses to spoken questions. People can ask questions and receive answers on a broad range of topics including the survivor’s experiences before, after and during the war, his attitudes and philosophy. Evaluation results show that most user questions can be addressed by the system, and that audiences are highly engaged with the resulting interaction.
KeywordsVideo Natural language dialogue Holocaust survivor testimony
The New Dimensions in Testimony prototype was made possible by generous donations from private foundations and individuals. We are extremely grateful to The Pears Foundation, Louis F. Smith, and two anonymous donors for their support. We thank the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Museum of Tolerance, New Roads School in Santa Monica, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center for offering their facilities for data collection and testing. We owe special thanks to Pinchas Gutter for sharing his story, and for his tireless efforts to educate the world about the Holocaust.
This work was supported in part by the U.S. Army; statements and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the United States Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
- 1.Artstein, R., Leuski, A., Maio, H., Mor-Barak, T., Gordon, C., Traum, D.: How many utterances are needed to support time-offset interaction? In: Proceedings of FLAIRS-28, pp. 144–149. AAAI Press, Hollywood, Florida, May 2015Google Scholar
- 2.Artstein, R., Traum, D., Alexander, O., Leuski, A., Jones, A., Georgila, K., Debevec, P., Swartout, W., Maio, H., Smith, S.: Time-offset interaction with a Holocaust survivor. In: Proceedings of IUI 2014, pp. 163–168. Haifa, Israel, February 2014Google Scholar
- 3.Bar-On, D.: Importance of testimonies in Holocaust education. Dimensions Online: A Journal of Holocaust Studies 17(1) (2003). http://archive.adl.org/education/dimensions_17/importance.html
- 4.Bohus, D., Rudnicky, A.I.: Sorry, I didn’t catch that! - An investigation of non-understanding errors and recovery strategies. In: Proceedings of SIGDIAL, Lisbon, Portugal, pp. 128–143, September 2005Google Scholar
- 5.Chabot, L.: Nixon library technology lets visitors ‘interview’ him. Los Angeles Times, 21 July 1990. http://articles.latimes.com/1990-07-21/news/mn-346_1_richard-nixon
- 6.Dejevsky, M.: As survivors dwindle, what will this mean for memories of the Holocaust? The Independent, 5 January 2014Google Scholar
- 7.Einarsson, P., Chabert, C.F., Jones, A., Ma, W.C., Lamond, B., Hawkins, T., Bolas, M., Sylwan, S., Debevec, P.: Relighting human locomotion with flowed reflectance fields. In: Proceedings of the 17th Eurographics Symposium on Rendering, pp. 183–194 (2006). http://dx.doi.org/10.2312/EGWR/EGSR06/183-194
- 8.Gustafson, J., Lindberg, N., Lundeberg, M.: The August spoken dialogue system. In: Proceedings of Eurospeech 1999 (1999)Google Scholar
- 9.Kim, K.A.: New Dimensions in Testimony: Findings from student pilots. Internal report, USC Shoah Foundation, August 2015Google Scholar
- 10.Leuski, A., Pair, J., Traum, D., McNerney, P.J., Georgiou, P., Patel, R.: How to talk to a hologram. In: Proceedings of IUI 2006, pp. 360–362 (2006)Google Scholar
- 11.Leuski, A., Patel, R., Traum, D., Kennedy, B.: Building effective question answering characters. In: Proceedings of SIGDIAL, Sydney, Australia, July 2006Google Scholar
- 12.Leuski, A., Traum, D.: NPCEditor: Creating virtual human dialogue using information retrieval techniques. AI Mag. 32(2), 42–56 (2011)Google Scholar
- 13.Levoy, M., Hanrahan, P.: Light field rendering. In: Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 1996, pp. 31–42 (1996). http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/237170.237199
- 14.Lieberman, L.: Using testimony in the classroom. Dimensions Online: A Journal of Holocaust Studies 17(1) (2003). http://archive.adl.org/education/dimensions_17/using.html
- 15.Marinelli, D., Stevens, S.: Synthetic interviews: The art of creating a ‘dyad’ between humans and machine-based characters. In: Proceedings of MULTIMEDIA 1998, pp. 11–16 (1998). http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/306774.306780
- 16.Schechter, D.: After the survivors: Facing a future without Holocaust witnesses. Atlanta Jewish Times, 9 April 2015Google Scholar
- 17.Sloss, E., Watzman, A.: Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center conjures up Benjamin Franklin’s ghost. Press release, Carnegie Mellon Media Relations, 28 June 2005. http://www.cmu.edu/PR/releases05/050628_etc.html
- 18.Traum, D., Georgila, K., Artstein, R., Leuski, A.: Evaluating spoken dialogue processing for time-offset interaction. In: Proceedings of SIGDIAL, Prague, pp. 199–208, September 2015. http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W/W15/W15-4629.pdf
- 19.Wilburn, B., Joshi, N., Vaish, V., Talvala, E.V., Antunez, E., Barth, A., Adams, A., Horowitz, M., Levoy, M.: High performance imaging using large camera arrays. ACM Trans. Graph. 24(3), 765–776 (2005). http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1073204.1073259