Rock star presents his “virtual being” to students at CMHR

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A digitized image of the blue head of a virtual woman.

News release details

Hundreds of high-school students will meet Ophelia, a virtual being who learns from her conversations with humans, during a youth event this Thursday at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).

Headshot of a man.

David Usher, founder of Reimagine AI - will open in a new tab and lead singer of Moist, will present his intelligent digital creation as part of the annual Disrupted - will open in a new tab conference, which showcases the human side of technology.

Over time, Ophelia’s interactions become increasingly complex as she learns from interactions to become an intelligent being. Unlike Alexa or Siri, Ophelia is not an information retrieval device. In fact, she is disconnected from the Internet so that she only uses information gathered from her interactions with users – developing personality traits that are more human than robotic.

The creativity and innovation behind artificial intelligence holds promise for a better world where human rights can be universally respected. However, Usher also warns of the dark side of smart technology, which can be used to control dissent through surveillance or insidious persuasion.

Students will have the opportunity to interact with Ophelia, who is also currently on display at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology - will open in a new tab in Ottawa. They will also learn about the Climate Clock - will open in a new tab, which Usher co-created to track climate change and global warming in ways that can be easily understood. It has been presented at the UN and at the G7 Summit.

WHAT: David Usher presents “Ophelia” to students

WHEN: 12:30 p.m., Thursday, January 30, 2020

WHERE: CMHR, 85 Israel Asper Way

Media access through Group Entrance

During the morning, teams of students will participate in an Instagram challenge to post content promoting human rights messages. The challenge demonstrates how social media can build empathy, spark change and create active global citizens.

Usher is an artist, author, entrepreneur and human rights activist from Montreal, and the founding director of Amnesty International’s Artists for Amnesty. A four-time Juno award-winning musician, he first gained fame in the 1990s with Moist. He has sold more than 1.4 million albums and performed all over the world, with number one singles in English, French and Thai.

His sessions with students are supported by a partnership between the CMHR and Tech Manitoba - will open in a new tab, organizers of the Disrupted conference, powered by RBC Future Launch.

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The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the only museum in the world to explore human rights as an aspiration for all people. Using innovative approaches to storytelling, the Museum creates inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages and abilities, in a visitor experience unlike any other. 

Tech Manitoba - will open in a new tabis a member-based association comprised of innovative, progressive companies that are powered by technology. It strives to create an environment for innovation, excellence, growth and global recognition in the sector by providing leadership, focus and collaboration with industry, education and government. 

Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry

Nicole Harris