The Startup Bridging Theology and Expertise

The Startup Bridging Theology and Expertise

Whereas attending a convention at Oxford, Stephen Smith heard in regards to the loss of life of an acquaintance, Steven, whose interview occurred to be saved in his laptop. Although Stephen wasn’t the interviewer and had no thought what the interview was all about, he put a hologram up and shot a query to the useless – the very day he died.

“Steven, what would you like your legacy to be,” he requested. “Life has its ups and downs. I need younger folks to know that it doesn’t matter if life treats you nicely or not. Simply keep it up, as a result of life is price dwelling.” That was the reply he acquired!

That’s when Stephen realized he wished extra from this. He arrange an account by way of StoryFile proper on the convention and allowed attendees to ‘work together with the useless’. Solely the attendees had no concept that Steven had died 12 hours in the past. “That’s after I realized this was going to be a game-changing expertise.” 

StoryFile – a revolutionary approach of storytelling

StoryFile, is an AI-powered video platform that’s cloud-based and automated, bringing the facility of conversational video into the limelight. Stephen Smith, CEO and co-founder of StoryFile, was the mind behind this innovation.  It’s possible you’ll recall him as the person who made his mom, the late Marina Smith MBE, undertake this expertise and communicate at her personal funeral.

In an unique chat with Analytics India Journal, Stephen spoke about his Indian roots, amongst different issues. “My mom, Marina Smith, was born in Kolkata to an Indian man. I met my grandfather final after I was simply 5 years previous and discovered solely this 12 months that my grandparents had been divorced throughout World Conflict II. My grandma introduced my mom and aunt to England for his or her training.”  

Now 55, Stephen remembers that his grandfather suffered a stroke throughout his go to to England. “I used to be 5 after I went to see him on the hospital. I keep in mind considering the way it had by no means occurred to me that my grandfather was Indian. So 40 years glided by earlier than I made a decision to do a DNA take a look at. I’m 20% Indian! For years, my mother hadn’t spoken a lot about this.”

From theology to expertise

Based mostly in LA, StoryFile was launched in 2017. It allowed folks to create movies that may very well be replayed to viewers utilizing the facility of AI. “Expertise just isn’t about expertise, it’s about human expertise.” The phrases stored echoing for lengthy, whereas Stephen sat in his California workplace, calmly answering my questions. 

The Startup Bridging Theology and Expertise

Stephen Smith, CEO, StoryFile

Stephen says that as a CEO, his predominant focus is on the enterprise of his fast-growing startup. The corporate faces complicated points associated to fundraising, audit safety, and recruitment methods. He says this stuff essentially come first, as with out them, there isn’t a enterprise.  “I’m not a technologist. My background is in theology and philosophy. So I wish to be the theologian operating a tech firm.”

Giving us a glimpse into the beginning of StoryFile, Stephen shares his story that dates again to the 90s, when he discovered himself engaged on a brand new media venture to movie the Holocaust survivors utilizing VCR cameras. He felt it was a bonus to have a digital camera that would interview hundreds of individuals.  

Stephen didn’t assume that he would find yourself operating a expertise firm. He got here to California in 2009 to run a basis created by ace filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who carried out 55,000 interviews with the Holocaust survivors, making it the world’s largest oral historical past archive to ever exist. Stephen now serves as the chief director emeritus of USC Shoah Basis. 

“As a way to achieve success in getting the message out, I had to achieve success with expertise. I ran that organisation for 12 years and primarily constructed a big media distribution platform for college students, lecturers, and universities, to get entry to an enormous database of content material. And that’s how I ended up ultimately constructing a media expertise firm.”

Stephen interviewed the survivors of the Holocaust, primarily to know why they inform their tales utilizing the latest media obtainable. “In 1945, I noticed that they had been telling their story by writing down on bits of paper and utilizing sound audio recordings. Then through movies and documentaries and in the end utilizing cameras that had been turning into more and more accessible.” 

He goes on to speak about two important figures with utterly totally different life experiences however one factor in frequent – they understood the significance of documenting a historic occasion with the assistance of expertise, in essentially the most humane approach doable.

One was Armin T. Wegner, a journalist and author who took pictures of the Armenian Genocide in 1970. He used these photographs to convey the reality of his state of affairs. Second, was Michael Hagopian, a filmmaker primarily based in Los Angeles, who had filmed folks surviving the Armenian Genocide. 

“The primary individual that Hagopian had interviewed was Armin Wegner. Fortuitously, the story of that historic occasion can solely be instructed due to these two males and their embrace of expertise and storytelling. So what this tells me is that expertise is about human expertise, and the way it can improve and allow us to be extra humane.” 

Moral issues round AI

Stephen’s curiosity lies in VR and the immersiveness of the XR, leveraging applied sciences between AI and visualisation. His group deploys tech as a chance for a person to inform a narrative, with out being altered by AI. He says, “AI is there to entry what exists and provide the finest solutions to a query and never recreate the lesson.”

He thinks that the one approach out is to make AI extra human. “So my query is, how can we use AI to boost the human expertise over the following few years? Metaverse could be something and all of the issues we wish it to be.” He additionally believes that people have to dig into the economics of AI, to seek out the steadiness between the trivialization of human expertise and deploy the identical for enhancement.

 Star Trek actor William Shatner on the StoryFile studio

“There must be a special steadiness between gaming, leisure, and fixing world issues. It doesn’t need to all be philanthropic. However I’d like to see that shift.”

The platform additionally caters to businesses and interviewees, with no knowledge taken by the corporate or anybody related to it. “What we’ve got is a really excessive bar round privateness. That is what encourages folks to speak authentically about their lives.”

Smith believes that his platform is a well-curated model of ourselves that’s narrowly outlined. With StoryFile, one can curate an genuine model of oneself. He says it’s virtually like being in a journal or a diary. “If you happen to take a look at social media channels, one can’t discover genuine variations of themself.”

StoryFile supplies a free, ad-free model of the software program, the place anybody can reply a minimum of 30 questions on themselves together with a free profile. “There’s no adverts on storytelling nor will ever be. We imagine that is about folks’s sacred house to inform their story in their very own phrases. The important thing factor is, it’s your story, it belongs to you and it’s protected with us.”

‘I didn’t discover it troublesome to speak to my mom’

When Stephen’s mom Mrs Smith handed away in Nottingham, England, she was nonetheless in a position to share tales and hardships together with her household in her posthumous look. Stephen says that he wished to get to ‘know’ her story reasonably than ‘ask’.  

“I used to be not recording the tapes as a result of I assumed she was going to die. I taped her as a result of she was alive. I wasn’t planning on utilizing them (the tapes) on the funeral. However when she handed away, it simply appeared apparent to me that I’d ask these questions on the funeral. I didn’t discover it troublesome. I discovered it very easy to speak to her.”

Stephen has authored a number of books and has two titles coming this 12 months, specifically, ‘The Trajectory of Reminiscence’ and ‘Holocaust XR’. 

Stephen’s innovation to seize folks’s legacy has modified issues round loss of life. With the assistance of AI and holographic expertise, individuals are in a position to seize reminiscences that they thought had been lengthy gone. It’s certainly not possible to spend time with the departed – that may mess with God’s plans – however StoryFile’s provides us a tiny shot at having that ‘one final discuss’.