With new artificial intelligence systems introduced, the Wilford Woodruff Papers give a new look to church history learning.
The Wilford Woodruff Papers has released a new AI learning system where visitors can converse with a Wilford Woodruff character.
President Wilford Woodruff was an Apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 59 years, and he was the fourth President of the Church. He kept many records during the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From journal entries to autobiographies, the Wilford Woodruff Papers compile documents so that anyone with a computer can access and read the history of President Woodruff and the Church.
With the writings compiled, the Wilford Woodruff Papers has combined these records with technology to build an AI system where people can ask an AI character of President Woodruff historical, religious and general questions.
“This is the first AI immersive experience to be used for historical purposes,” said Ed Evans, the director of strategy for Wilford Woodruff Papers. “Our purpose is to build faith in Christ — particularly with the rising generation — so we have created an engaging experience that combines conversational AI, with the latest gaming technologies, and integrates with the Wilford Woodruff Papers database.”
Once the system is downloaded on a computer, users can virtually enter the home of President Woodruff and begin conversing with him. The makers recommend sharing some personalized information such as hobbies, a challenge or a success the user has had to begin the conversation. People can download the application on the Wilford Woodruff Papers website.
The concept for the project began from a conversation between Evans and Jonathan Gibson, the founder of LivingHistory.ai. The project took five months to create and be released, and it is still being updated as they continue to add more information from the journals of President Woodruff.
To create the system, Evans said they combined a large-scale gaming engine with another platform that controls the character’s personality, traits and voice. It was then designed and constructed to replicate President Woodruff’s Nauvoo home. After designing, they began loading data from the Wilford Woodruff Papers directly into the gaming platform.
While still newly developed, the papers project hopes that the new AI system can play a role in bringing history to life in users’ gospel studies.
According to the Wilford Woodruff Papers website, the purpose of making Wilford Woodruff’s faithful records universally accessible is to inspire people, especially the rising generation, to study and increase their faith in Jesus Christ, understand and honor sacred temple covenants and receive the blessings of exaltation with their families.
As the AI team continually updates the system, they are also working on other projects to share the writings of President Woodruff with the world.
Evans said their team has developed a new search engine on the website that takes users deep into the papers and presents pages directly from President Woodruff’s writings. While collaborating with BYU-Idaho students, the Papers project has also developed a new timeline and ancestral capabilities to aid in user studies.
“So much of what we are publishing on our website is new to most LDS audiences and being delivered using progressive digital methods,” Evans said.
Wilford Woodruff Papers has worked for many years toward the goal of helping the history of the Restoration come to life. The AI system is a step that will bring that dream to life.
“The system has launched successfully to the public and our goals for the future align with our editorial mission — to publish the writings of Wilford Woodruff and our purpose to build faith in Christ,” Evans said.