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Affinity Workshop: Indigenous in AI/ML

Reclaiming Indigenous Voices: An ASR-based Recording App for Indigenous Language Revitalization

Ryan M Conti · Faith Baca

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Mon 11 Dec 12:15 p.m. PST — 1 p.m. PST


Nearly 50% of the world’s Indigenous and about 90% of North American languages are endangered, according to UNESCO. To stem this loss, Indigenous communities need a game-changing approach to language education. The First Languages AI Reality (FLAIR) initiative is being created to enable the next chapter in Indigenous language reclamation thanks to the use of advanced immersive AI technology. A significant obstacle in the path to Indigenous language reclamation and revitalization is the large amount of time and labor required for the transcription of speech into text. This bottleneck exists in part due to the scarcity of high quality, ethically-obtained data for the creation of ASR models. For this reason, a primary step in the FLAIR initiative is the creation of a user-friendly application, RAIV (Recording App for Indigenous Voices) that prioritizes data sovereignty and empowers Indigenous communities to record speech in their ancestral language. This increases the amount of high quality speech data for ASR models and additionally serves as an additional platform through which Indigenous communities can reclaim their language through education and speech. In this talk, Indigenous students from top universities who have been aiding in the creation of this application will discuss their work on the RAIV application and other aspects of the FLAIR initiative, what they have learned in the process, and where the application will go in the future.

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