The New AI Frontier: Tagging Indigenous Values - Davar Ardalan - Medium

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We spent last week with Native American students, scientists, educators, and technologists talking, tagging, and telling stories in Phoenix, Arizona. IVOW was invited to the meeting of AISES, the…
It's not ok for AI to tell us how we think — if it doesn't even know what we think.

Generic labels from a popular image recognition app identifying an American Indian Powwow

We spent last week with Native American students, scientists, educators, and technologists talking, tagging, and telling stories in Phoenix, Arizona. IVOW was invited to the meeting of AISES, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, to demonstrate how we can teach artificial intelligence about our heritage through storytelling.

I led the workshop together with Tracy Monteith, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft, a member of the Eastern Band Cherokee and life-long member of AISES, and technologist Chamisa Edmo of the Navajo Nation.

The larger purpose of the workshop was to share stories from American Indian perspectives in a way that can be leveraged to create diverse training data that begins to represent the viewpoints of indigenous peoples. Our message: Let's not leave indigenous values behind. It's not enough for AI to tell us how we think if it doesn't even know what we think.

Students participating in IVOW's Dataset, AI, and Storytelling Workshop at AISES September 24, 2021

"Indigenous people are traditionally experiential learners. Generally, we grow up in ways that reinforce observation and exploration first, followed by a thoughtful discussion with someone older. That's how we approached the AISES workshop," says Chamisa. "Usually we find ourselves embodying a dominant cultural approach to things and not leveraging our own depth of expertise. This time with Davar and IVOW leading it was different."

The notion that we can inform machines about indigenous knowledge and help preserve wisdom for future generations was simply mesmerizing for all, even for the young and older engineers in the room!

Cultural Inclusivity in AI

With over 560 tribes in the United States, from every territory in the Americas, there is a vast array of perspectives and opinions. We included a…
Davar Ardalan
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