LOS ANGELES — University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith participated Friday, December 7, at a special event at the United Nations marking the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the international law that defined genocide and held perpetrators accountable.
At the event, which commemorated the UN General Assembly’s passage of the Genocide Convention on December 9 of 1948, Smith discussed the role of technology in the prevention of genocide.
“The question before us today is how we use technology to uphold the values that are enshrined in the convention,” Smith said in his prepared remarks. “For certain it does not begin with high-performance computing and end with artificial intelligence. It begins with story, and ends in empathy.”
The observance, which included remarks from UN Secretary General António Guterres, also featured a demonstration of the Institute’s Dimensions in Testimony interactive biography that enables people to ask questions and instantly receive pre-recorded responses from Holocaust survivors.
Survivors featured in the presentation were Pinchas Gutter, who was the only member of his family to survive the Majdanek concentration camp in Germany, and Eva Schloss, the last living relative of Anne Frank.
In response to a question from the audience about how to promote tolerance, Gutter’s pre-recording said: “Accept ‘my culture is this, your culture is that.’ Your prayers to God — you do it this way, I do it my way. I say Psalms, you read the Koran. Why can’t we live together? And in some places people do live together quite reasonably and tolerate each other. Why can’t the whole world do that?”