New Orleans Museum Introduces AI Exhibit for Conversations with WWII Veterans

Published March 20, 2024

A new exhibit featuring AI-powered virtual chats with World War II veterans is opening at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. This interactive display, titled Voices From the Front, allows visitors to engage in simulated conversations with digitized representations of veterans. Among these is a Medal of Honor recipient who passed away in 2022.

Reviving History Through Technology

The exhibition offers a chance to interact with historical figures who contributed to the war effort. Notable individuals include a military nurse who served in the Philippines, an aircraft factory worker, and Margaret Kerry, who inspired Disney's Tinkerbell. The exhibit took four years to develop and required veterans to answer up to a thousand questions for a comprehensive conversational experience.

How the Exhibit Works

Visitors can select the veteran they wish to speak with at a console. A life-size on-screen image of the chosen veteran appears, ready to converse. Using AI, the system processes the visitor's questions and finds the most fitting response from the pre-recorded answers. While the technology may not be flawless, its learning capability promises more accurate and responsive interactions as it adapts to more inquiries.

With the generation of WWII veterans dwindling, the museum aims to preserve their stories and personal encounters through this technology. The exhibit also commemorates the service of Malcolm S. Forbes, a WWII frontline infantry machine gunner, within the newly opened Malcolm S. Forbes Rare and Iconic Artifacts Gallery. The gallery showcases various relics, including Forbes' personal awards and combat-worn items.

The initiative arises amid fewer opportunities for in-person veteran interactions, especially following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this aging group. The Voices From the Front exhibit stands as a testament to the enduring legacy and valor of the Greatest Generation, ensuring their voices are not lost to time.

AI, WWII, Museum