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Sacred Waveforms: An Indigenous Perspective on the Ethics of Collecting and Usage of Spiritual Data for Machine Learning
Michael Running Wolf · Caroline Running Wolf

Sat Dec 14 08:45 AM -- 09:15 AM (PST) @
Event URL: https://aiforsocialgood.github.io/neurips2019/schedule.htm »

This talk is an introduction to the intersection of revitalizing sacred knowledge and exploitation of this data. For centuries Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have resisted the loss of their land, technology, and cultural knowledge. This resistance has been enabled by vibrant cultural protocols, unique to each tribal nation, which controls the sharing of, and limits access to sacred knowledge. Technology has made preserving cultural data easy, but there is a natural tension between reigniting ancient knowledge and mediums that allow uncontrollable exploitation of this data. Easy to access ML opens a new path toward creating new Indigenous technology, such as ASR, but creating AI using Indigenous heritage requires care.

Speakers bio: Michael Running Wolf was raised in a rural village in Montana with intermittent water and electricity; naturally he now has a Masters of Science in Computer Science. Though he is a published poet, he is a computer nerd at heart. His lifelong goal is to pursue endangered indigenous language revitalization using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) technology. He was raised with a grandmother who only spoke his tribal language, Cheyenne, which like many other indigenous languages is near extinction. By leveraging his advanced Master’s degree in Computer Science and his technical skills, Michael hopes to strengthen the ecology of thought represented by indigenous languages through immersive technology.

Caroline Running Wolf, nee Old Coyote, is an enrolled member of the Apsáalooke Nation (Crow) in Montana, with a Swabian (German) mother and also Pikuni, Oglala, and Ho-Chunk heritage. Thanks to her genuine interest in people and their stories she is a multilingual Cultural Acclimation Artist dedicated to supporting Indigenous language and culture vitality. Together with her husband, Michael Running Wolf, they create virtual and augmented reality experiences to advocate for Native American voices, languages and cultures. Caroline has a Master’s degree in Native American Studies from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. She is currently pursuing her PhD in anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Author Information

Michael Running Wolf (Buffalo Tongue)

Working in industry on Big Data and Indigenous Machine Learning projects.

Caroline Running Wolf (UBC)

Caroline Running Wolf, nee Old Coyote, is an enrolled member of the Apsáalooke Nation (Crow) in Montana, with a Swabian (German) mother and also Pikuni, Oglala, and Ho-Chunk heritage. Thanks to her genuine interest in people and their stories she is a multilingual Cultural Acclimation Artist dedicated to supporting Indigenous language and culture vitality. Together with her husband, Michael Running Wolf, they create virtual and augmented reality experiences to advocate for Native American voices, languages and cultures. Caroline has a Master’s degree in Native American Studies from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. She is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

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