Museum of Science Unveils New Artificial Intelligence Experience about COVID-19

August 17, 2020

Ask a Virtual Expert: COVID Conversations with Dr. Jha Invites the Community to Interact with Cutting-edge Technology While Learning the Facts about this Critical Public Health Issue

BOSTON, MA  — The Museum of Science, one of the world’s largest science centers and one of Boston’s most popular attractions, today unveiled its new, groundbreaking interactive experience, Ask a Virtual Expert: COVID Conversations with Dr. Jha, which invites the public to interact with leading global health advocate, Dr. Ashish Jha, at home or at the Museum, using StoryFile’s conversational video artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Through the Museum’s online virtual exhibit at MOS at Home, or in person at the Museum, curious members of the public anywhere in the world can ask a life-like, digital image of Dr. Jha a multitude of questions about COVID-19 ranging from its origins and the history of its pathology, to public policy and the systemic racial inequities that have driven high infection rates in communities of color.

Based on actual questions shared by the Museum’s community through its popular online live presentation series, “Ask A Scientist”, and research conducted by Museum of Science exhibit developers, the Museum collaborated with StoryFile, whose interactive and innovative AI technology allows visitors to directly engage with Dr. Jha, an American public health scholar and the incoming Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

“In our role as a trusted community resource, the Museum of Science is committed to making complex scientific topics accessible to the public. The suite of COVID exhibit content we present in the Museum and online -- especially the opportunity to have a “personal” conversation with an AI version of one of the world’s leading public health scientists -- does just that,” said Tim Ritchie, president of the Museum of Science. “StoryFile’s innovative technology, combined with Dr. Jha’s deep knowledge, allows the Museum to deliver this important and timely experience to our community here in Boston and beyond. Most importantly, the information presented in these exhibits enable everyone to do their part in the battle against COVID-19.”

To inform the Ask a Virtual Expert: COVID Conversations with Dr. Jha experience, Dr. Jha was filmed answering over 550 questions about relevant topics. His answers are stored in a database on StoryFile’s AI proprietary platform, allowing users to pose their questions to the digital version of Dr. Jha via an educator-facilitated presentation onsite at the Museum of Science or directly online through the Museum’s virtual exhibits at MOS at Home.

Ashish K. Jha is the K.T. Li Professor of Global Health at Harvard University and Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. His research endeavors focus on improving the quality and costs of healthcare systems with a specialized focus on the impact of policies. As a public health advocate, Dr. Jha has written extensively on the importance of international agencies like the World Health Organization and how they can be made more effective in infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola, Zika and now Coronavirus. He has published more than 200 empirical papers and writes regularly about ways to improve health care systems, both in the U.S. and globally. He also heads a blog, which focuses on using statistical data research to improve health quality. Jha was elected as a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2013.

 “Collaborating with the Museum of Science on this experience was, for me, an extraordinary opportunity to reach people – children and adults alike -- with fact-based information about health policy, disease transmission, the importance of masks and social distancing and global efforts to combat COVID-19. Throughout this entire crisis, science has been fighting for its place in the discussion and I am a firm believer that data, evidence, and the scientific process are our best tools for fighting this pandemic. I hope this program will provide information in a way that is accessible and helpful to our broader community.”

“This is a unique opportunity to learn from Dr. Jha at the Museum, or one-on-one online at home, bringing education and awareness to the global community at large. Dr. Jha’s StoryFile and the partnership with the Museum is timely and of utmost importance in sharing critical information on COVID-19 and other health matters, giving everyone the opportunity to ask their own questions and be their own advocate,” said StoryFile CEO Heather Smith. She continued, “We are thrilled to partner with the Museum of Science to bring Dr. Jha and his expertise to people around the world. StoryFile’s innovative and proprietary technology allows people to engage and connect on a personal level, as we are committed to preserving stories, experience and knowledge in the StoryFiler’s own words.”

The Ask a Virtual Expert: COVID Conversations with Dr. Jha presentation is free with Museum Exhibit Halls admission, but reserved, timed tickets are highly encouraged. Seating is limited to allow safe distancing for visitors.

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