From Where We Are

Lora King kicks off ‘Voices of a Movement’ series

USC libraries launches the Lora King Virtual Human Experience. The artificial intelligence program creates an intimate experience with important figures in American history.

Lora King at 'Voices of a Movement' event

The Charlotta Bass Journalism and Justice Lab is a new initiative at USC Annenberg that aims to share stories of the Black experience throughout American history. Lora King, the daughter of Rodney King, spoke during the lab’s inaugural event at Annenberg Hall today. Anthony Clingerman has the story.

The audience gathered in the lobby of Annenberg Hall in anticipation of Lora King’s Voices of a Movement panel. The event was set to introduce King’s Virtual Human interview experience, and audience members heard a first-hand account of Rodney King’s legacy in the aftermath of the uprising.

LORA KING: I’m Lora King, middle child of the late great Rodney King in 1991. My father was the first victim of police brutality to have his assault captured on TV, and it changed the world. I’m also the CEO and founder of the Rodney King Foundation.

What you just heard wasn’t actually Lora King, at least not today. The Virtual Human Experience is actually an artificial intelligence program that analyzes the viewer’s question and converts it into an interview prompt. Mike Jones is the Director of Web and Automation Technologies at the USC Libraries.

MIKE JONES: So we’ve created these interactive interviews within the USC libraries and the USC digital repository. The concept is finding a way to make engaging and interactive conversations with consequential stories and oral histories. I think one of the things that’s really empowering about this type of technology is that it allows each and every user to interact with the story and with the person sharing their story in their own way.

Members of Lora King’s family were also in attendance for the event and sampled the interview technology first-hand after King’s speech was complete. Jaylyn Norwood is Lora King’s daughter and was surprised at the breadth of the experience.

JAYLYN NORWOOD: I never thought you can even interact with things like museums or even like AI, I think that’s crazy. It also grabs attention, just how cool it is. It can also make other people excited to see it and want to learn more about the things that my mom is talking about.

The Lora King Virtual Human interview experience will be available on the second floor of Annenberg Hall until this Thursday. For Annenberg Media, I’m Anthony Clingerman.