IP-AI • MAY 24, 2019
The Future of AI
Dr. Ashley Cordes (Coquille) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah in Indigenous Communication. Dr. Cordes attended the March 2019 Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence workshops in Hawai’i. Here she explores the future of AI.
As tired as it is to say, thanks to the Black Mirror Netflix series, the music of Janelle Monáe, psychedelia, and sci-fi the pop cultural psyche-world already has a quite clear collective visioning of what the future will look like via Artificial Intelligence. How do we move beyond what is already semiotically pre- determined to ask the negotiated and oppositional ways that the future looks like for AI? We need to question what the future looks like for AI, because we and AI are among the many agents determining it.
In the future AI will, as it has, come under large scale scrutiny and regulation for the bias it inherently holds when used in criminal justice, healthcare, and education. It will also look hopeful. The future will be techno-pessimistic, optimistic, and pragmatic and it’s not productive or holistic to look at in only one way.
What makes newer technology, AI, or media interesting, meaningful, and worthy of talking about is when these technological innovations are thought about by communities that have been consciously marginalized by the system. The innovations themselves are not necessarily paradigm shifts, but the ways in which the systems created are commandeered to change up the systems in some small way are. The discourse that centers on Indigenous peoples as technologically backwards is one deployed by colonial forces to delegitimize Indigenous ways of knowing and ways of acting, and I feel weird that we still have to talk about it. By making AI serve us and owning it as an Indigenous project, efforts like these play into a chipping away at this “regime of (un)truth.” They break down the epistemological underpinnings and exemplify the fact that Indigenous people are not only surviving in the digital age, but are in the driver’s seat of envisioning futurity in an increasingly digital and globalized world.
“Hypertextuality refers to the accessibility of texts...they are retrievable, decodable, memories of Indigenous epistemology.”
Technology, the communicative artifacts that are considered in the deployment of stereotypes such as these, are at the same time the same things that can be re-inscribed or created with counter-hegemonic charge. With Indigenous efforts the future of AI will feel like predicting, planning, learning, representing, executing, doing, perceiving, solving, fixing, ruining, helping, hurting, intellectualizing, complicating. The ride will not look like a linear line and it will also recognize and give nods to glimpses of AI in “traditional” items. For example, Haas (2007) pointed out that hypertext and multimedia are too often claimed as Western. Hypertextuality refers to the accessibility of texts through other texts, layered with meaning. Wampum shells were made by many tribes, particularly the Iroquois, into intricate “belts” to tell stories, to mark occasions, to make contracts; there are layers of meaning that make them hypertextual. They are also arguably digital in that the beads are strung, they are code, and can be read; they are retrievable, decodable, memories of Indigenous epistemology.
AI can look to help make better the lives of Indigenous peoples and help to ensure Indigenous futurity. AI can certainly be made with Indigenous epistemologies at the forefront to radically question, appropriate, and push back pervasive globalized peer-to-peer systems or any systems which may in any way not serve us. Lastly, AI will also help to restructure our social worlds, transform the ways we view digital territoriality, and help us to embody/honor Indigenuity (meaning new relationships with the ecosystems we rely on, Wildcat, 2013).
Dr. Ashley Cordes (Coquille) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah in Indigenous Communication. Her research lies at the intersections of communication, digital media, and Indigenous studies and is attuned to issues of social power and decolonization. Recent work focuses on crypto and land-based currency as media, and on cultural appropriation in electronic dance music contexts. Cordes’ work can be found in peer-reviewed journals including Television & New Media and New Media & Society. She has a professional background in multiplatform journalism and is currently a 2018-2019 American Philosophical Society Digital Knowledge Sharing Fellow, and Chair of the Culture and Education Committee of the Coquille Indian Tribe.
The Indigenous Protocols and Artificial Intelligence (IP-AI) workshops are founded by Old Ways, New, and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. This work is funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Old Ways, New, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Concordia University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary.
How do we Indigenously Interact with AI?