One of the most unusual talks at the recent i4GG conference (videos coming soon) was the one about the use of AI for genealogy by Steve Little, the AI program director for the National Genealogical Society (NGS). I learned that it was how you phrased your question that could lead to more accurate answers, e.g. “you are a professional genealogist … ” I found out that AI, particularly the paid versions, could extract text from documents, even handwritten ones and translate in context. Here is my favorite slide from that talk. Personally my first impression of ChatGPT had been that it was great at sounding good while making stuff up.
Slide from Steve Little’s talk, used by permission
Steve will be speaking at RootsTech at 8 am Thursday this week and will also be available at the NGS booth as per his post on FaceBook.
Amusingly, in my own talk about using bioancestry to solve unknown parentage cases, I had experimented with using AI generated images to illustrate a few of my points. For example, when I asked the deepAI image generator for a Hungarian violinist I got this image whose hands are imperfect, but it still adds pizzazz to the slide.
No sooner has my favorite DNA conference (i4GG) ended, than it is time to get ready for Rootstech! No I won’t be there in person this year, too much to do to prepare for our move to Connecticut. Hope everyone has a great time. I will attend virtually, so if you are logged in there, you can click here to see if you are related to me! As all my ancestors are fairly recent immigrants (earliest 1860s), I have only 434 relatives at Rootstech, the closest being a fifth cousin. Oh well.
Ellis Island has wonderful displays about immigration to America going back to the land bridge; even though it itself was only used from 1892- 1924. Although it did not close until 1954, in those later years it was only used for exceptional cases, since screening was done at the other end. This came about due to the increased restrictions on immigration (see list at the end of this article), most importantly the National Origins Act of 1924. Click here for the history of Ellis Island and click here for the BBC series of articles “The Open Door policy and immigration to 1928.”
The displays at Ellis Island have photos and letters and recorded voices but what struck me the most was the fact that there were so many anti-immigrant demonstrations back in the 19th century. I learned about them from an exhibit on the 2nd floor and thus learned that that sort of sentiment is not new. First it was the Irish immigrants, then the Chinese, then the Southern Europeans, and so on. There was the No Nothing party and the Nativists in the mid 1800s (click here for an article on the Know Nothings). I don’t remember much of this from my high school American history classes. Was it even covered to the extent shown on those walls?
The largest genealogy conference in the world, Rootstech is virtual and free again this year. It starts in just a few hours!
For genetic genealogists, i4GG is on again for April 9-10 in San Diego in person, thanks to CeCe Moore. The East Coast is going to have its own genetic genealogy conference, now virtual, ECGGC on April 23-24. Click any name in the preceding to go to the conference site and yes I will be presenting at all of them.
For Rootstech, my recorded talk delves into the details of the case where I found a jewish sperm donor; click here for that or here for the blog post. My very basic talk on using DNA to figure out unknown parentage, which I did for them last year, is still on youtube (click here). Roberta Estes has written a number of helpful posts about Rootstech 2022 – one on how to navigate the website and find what you want (click here) and several on using the find your relatives app (click here and here)
For i4GG I usually present what’s new at GEDmatch and sometimes more about the latest tools for finding unknown parentage. My 2020 live i4GG talks can still be purchased with all the other great ones from that wonderful last conference before COVID at https://i4gg.org/2020-videos/
At the brand new East Coast Genetic Genealogy Conference (ECGGC), I will give some of my favorite and newly revised talks, live but virtual. The titles below link to the previous versions of my slides but I will make a note here when the slides are updated.
Getting the scoop on new GEDmatch features over lunch with Verogen’s Tom and Brett
The excitement is building… RootsTech, the largest yearly genealogy conference, has gone virtual and what’s more it’s free this year! Over 400,000 people from all over the world have registered for RootsTech Connect. It starts this Thursday February 25–27, 2021, at rootstech.org [UPDATE 23-Feb-2021: Due to time differences, in the USA it starts the evening of Wednesday the 24th: the Expo Hall officially opens at 5pm Mountain time and the main stage and classes at 9 pm Mountain time… and yes I updated the number of attendees and will continute to do that].
Many companies have sales or specials at the time of Rootstech. One of the most exciting ones is that DNA uploads of tests from other testing companies will get the DNA tools for free this week at MyHeritage (click here to learn more). Be sure to go to the virtual Expo Hall, once it is open, to check out all the other specials.
Title slide from one of my presentations. Photo by Anne Call House from a past RootsTech. Click image for my speaker page
My own talks are a two part series on unknown parentage, as well as a presentation on one world collaborative trees: FamilySearch, GENI, and WIKItree. I saw a really large number of talks in my areas of interest: DNA, Norway, Jewish, and Germany. Fortunately the talks will be available long after the conference ends. There are far too many for me to manage in just three days!
How are they going to handle the online conference?
I love presenting at genealogy conferences and mingling with others equally devoted to family history. I also really enjoy visiting the exhibit hall, chatting with vendors, and seeing what’s new. I am not sure how well that will work in an online environment but I am about to find out.
This coming week is the 40th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. It was originally going to be here in San Diego, on Harbor Island, but now it is virtual, using a package called BigMarker. Click here for the IAJGS press release. I will be doing a live session called Ask the Experts About Jewish DNA with Adam Brown on Tuesday at 2:15 PST (5:15 EST).
For the originally planned San Diego conference, I was going to do a talk on dealing with Jewish endogamy in your autosomal DNA test results (click here for those slides), as well as tell a quick story about discovering via DNA that I have third cousins in South Africa (click here for that blog post), but those talks were cut when they went to the online format. So I will give a very brief summary of the endogamy issue in our Ask the Experts session or, if you want to know more, come talk to me at my “table” after that session. Click here to see my slide advising which Jewish matches to follow up on.
The pre-recorded, thus on demand, talks start tomorrow (Sunday) for conference attendees. I plan to listen to the one about South Africa now that I have relatives there.
I have been getting most of my information through the IAJGS facebook group for the conference. Recently they explained how to submit questions in advance, as follows: Continue reading