His Future with Circumnavigation and the Role of Artificial Intelligence: A Conversation with Abhilash Tomy

In continuation of Querlo’s interview series, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, spoke with Abhilash Tomy, Indian Navy Pilot, Sailor, and Circumnavigator, about his sailing ventures, both present and past, and how he might use Artificial Intelligence in the future.

In 2013, Abhilash became the first Indian to complete a solo, non-stop circumnavigation around the world. He also participated in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, in which participants must sail solo around the world without stopping. In his discussion with Francesco, Abhilash shared the story of how he got stuck in the middle of the Indian Ocean during this race. A bad storm had hit and he ended up fracturing his spine and was left completely immobile on his boat. He was rescued three and a half days later and brought to an island where it took him fifteen days to finally reach a hospital. However, the Golden Globe Race is happening again in 2022 and he hopes that this time he can complete the trip.

To prepare for this next venture, Abhilash’s most important task is to secure a sponsorship. He hopes that this will be achieved by the end of 2021. Additionally, he needs to complete trials on the boat in the beginning of 2022 so he will be ready for the race, which starts on September 4th, 2022.

When asked about the role of Artificial Intelligence in his sailing, Abhilash discussed the chatbot that he has developed with the Querlo team. The chatbot allows people to learn about his career, awards and recognition, personal life, and more. Abhilash described it as being a “very comprehensive online replica” of him that allows people to ask him questions whenever they want without him physically being present. He is also continuously developing it as people ask questions that might not already have answers.  To hear more from Abhilash or discuss possible sponsorships, you can reach him at abhilash.tomy@gmail.com or contact Francesco through LinkedIN. Additionally,you can find the chatbot at querlo.com/chat/abhilash.

Bringing Michelangelo to Life in a New and Interactive Way: A Conversation with Giovanni Serafini

For art historians who are used to using books and documents to learn more about an artist’s life, it can be difficult to navigate this new digital era. However, these technological advances bring new opportunities to share information with the public in a more interactive manner. Francesco Rulli, Global CEO and Chief Digital and Cognitive Officer of the Opera del Duomo, recently spoke about this topic with Giovanni Serafini, Assistant Registrar at the Opera del Duomo.

Located in Florence Italy, the Opera del Duomo was founded in 1296 to oversee the construction of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Giotto Bell Tower. Currently, the main task of the Opera is to conserve these monuments and other works of art by artists such as Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, and Donatello. Francesco has been collaborating with Giovanni and the other members of his team to build the Michelangelo AI, which allows people to ask Michelangelo questions through a chatbot. Additionally, he has been working to identify strategic partnerships with the Opera to further develop the Michelangelo AI and possibly expand the project to include other artists. 

Giovanni, who described himself as feeling like an alien in the digital world, found it surprising to discover that the work he’s doing with the Michelangelo AI is directly in line with the study of the old humanistic world, which is his primary field of study. The main goal of this project is to not only bring MIchaelangelo’s works to life but to also help people understand who he was as a person. However, Giovanni noted, when researching Michelangelo’s life, it’s important that he and his colleagues must respect the fact that they are working with the life of a real person who lived, died, suffered, and loved. 

Giovanni continued by describing the process of responding to the questions that he and his team receive through the chatbot. They have been very lucky because there are many resources documenting Michelangelo’s life that are available for them to use. For example, three biographies were written about him when he was still alive. The first was by Giorgio Vasari in 1550, who was a painter and friend of Michelangelo. The second was a response to Vasari’s biography, which was written by Ascanio Condivi in 1554. And the final biography was also written by Vasari in 1568, a few years after Michelangelo’s death. Additionally, there is a large collection of letters and documents that often reference a book of sonnets written by Michelangelo that was published by his nephew in the beginning of the 17th century. With all these sources, Giovanni and his team must gather all the relevant information to recreate the environment in which Michelangelo worked and lived in. They look forward to this project and using AI to help make art and artists more accessible to more people.

The Hope-Filled Re-Opening of the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore: A Conversation with Monsignor Timothy Verdon

The Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, located in Florance, Italy, is a 700-year-old complex that holds some of Italy’s most beautiful and profound art, architecture, and sculptures. The museum complex lives off of the revenue they typically receive from the 2.25 million tourists that visit each year, however, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Opera has been struggling to find ways to support their facilities and employees. 

Monsignor Timothy Verdon is the current director of the Opera de Santa Maria del Fiore Museum, and he, along with his team, has been working with Francesco Rulli at Querlo to build Artificial Intelligence solutions in order to reach a broader audience and support the Opera. 

Recently, Monsignor Timothy Verdon and Francesco Rulli engaged in a conversation about the Opera’s more recent experiences as the world begins to transition into the post-COVID era. The Opera recently became the first monumental complex and museum to re-open after the lockdown was announced. Mr. Verdon explained that the museum decided to open early because they “believed that people need a strong sign of hope, a signal that things can return” back to a sense of normalcy. In the days following the opening, the Opera received more than 25,000 reservations by people who wanted to visit the museum. Mr. Verdon said that the influx of reservations was a sign that, “people are really looking for a way to return to normalcy and rediscover beauty.” This re-opening was excitingly optimistic and put the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore back in a position where they felt confident they could keep their doors open. 

Additionally, the new AI systems made through the partnership between the Opera and Querlo are allowing more and more people who aren’t able to physically visit the museum complex to experience the art, spirituality, and the rich culture of Florance that the Opera has to offer. Monsignor Timothy Verdon noted that “the web is becoming one of the main forms in which [the Opera] propose[s] [themselves] to the world.” 

The chatbot that Querlo and the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore are working on in collaboration allows a unique opportunity for an exchange of ideas. People are able to ask questions to “former Italian artists”, such as Michaelangelo, and the museum is able to learn what information people are most curious about. This is one of many examples in which AI opens up a real platform for cultural exchange and knowledge.