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AI know-how resurrects the voice of Laleh Bakhtiar

(RNS) — The voice of Laleh Bakhtiar, the primary American girl to translate the Quran, who died final yr, is being dropped at life because of a venture that seeks to make use of synthetic intelligence to protect her work.

Bakhtiar’s daughter, Iran Davar Ardalan, based the venture, referred to as Clever Voices of Knowledge, partially to take care of the truth that synthetic intelligence not often speaks to minority teams. The world of data know-how, she mentioned, has usually been hostile to Muslims, as latest social media controversies involving Fb and different firms point out.

It’s because whereas synthetic intelligence-driven companies have proliferated lately, many synthetic intelligence methods lack fundamental cultural intelligence, Ardalan mentioned.

However it’s thought that Bakhtiar, who died in 2020 after pioneering work on subjects from Sufism to Quranic psychology and highlighted by her 2007 gender-neutral translation of the Quran, is the proper candidate for the Clever Voices of Knowledge’s strategy.


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Born in Iran, she was raised in Los Angeles and Washington earlier than returning to Tehran, the place she studied with the thinker Seyyed Hossein Nasr. After taking her doctorate in New Mexico, Bakhtiar spent a lot of the remainder of her life in Chicago.

Laleh Bakhtiar. Courtesy photograph

Throughout her lengthy battle in opposition to myelodysplastic syndrome, she started utilizing Storage Band to file her ideas and concepts. IVOW is growing a modified model of Google Assistant’s voice-driven AI to permit college students to not solely hear however to ask questions and have digital conversations with Bakhtiar on theology and a variety of different disciplines. 

The recordings are solely the start of what could at some point be accessible. “She saved over 50 years’ price of letters between herself, 16 siblings and her mother and father,” mentioned Mani Helene Ardalan Farhadi, one other of Bakhtiar’s kids. Greater than eight volumes’ price of her desires, lecture notes, letters and bits of her household historical past have been revealed previous to her loss of life. In complete, Bakhtiar translated over 150 texts and left behind different potential knowledge factors. 

“Its good for augmented and synthetic intelligences as a result of AI requires a whole lot of knowledge,” mentioned Iran Davar Ardalan. ”Weren’t attempting to create content material, have been attempting to disseminate a wealth of current content material.”

The price of digitizing the hundreds of journals, lecture notes, photographs and different paperwork is daunting. She hopes to lift funds or obtain donations to scan simply the household’s private archive.


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Iran Davar Ardalan hopes the venture will profit all Muslims.

In 2016, Bakhtiar wrote an article, revealed by Faith Information Service, by which she referred to as for a “cell minaret” to assist make Islamic data and the principal of Islamic inquiry extra available. “We have to design analytics and metrics for fulfillment,” she wrote. “We have to construct a cell minaret agile sufficient to achieve youth in all of the methods they’re already consuming data.”

Now, because of the IVOW venture, her personal reminiscence seeks to change into foundational stone in that metaphorical minaret.

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