What does the future look like for AI?:
Oshkaabewis or a Skynet
Scott Benesiinaabandan (Anishinaabe) is an Anishinaabe intermedia artist that works primarily in photography, video, audio, and printmaking. He attended the March 2019 Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence workshops in Hawai’i. Here he explores the future of AI.
I’ll answer this as it relates to my visual arts practice, involving the futurity of Anishinabemowin (the spoken Anishinabe language) and land/water protection and sovereignty.
I think that in the near-future, AI can have an immediate impact on the preservation and promotion of endangered Indigenous languages. Already there are some projects making use of AI towards this effort. Deep learning programs designed at its root with a community’s ethical concerns forming the backbone of programs can both improve research and educational resources and opportunities. Languages that are agglutinative,such as Anishinabemowin, would certainly benefit from AI driven language tools, programs that could search and scan contemporary internet resources alongside historical text archives, could provide new and intelligent responsive learning apps, driven by the particular user and their specific community contexts (dialects).
New words for new worlds is a theme I have been exploring from Anishinabemowin perspective and could see how AI assistance could provide alternate visions of the future through exploration of new language(s).
Other areas where the near-future AI could be employed is in Indigenous land/water-use and sovereignty protection. Ongoing analysis of land/water-use maps could provide deeper understanding of territorial uses and importantly how best to protect on-the-land resources, such as fish stocks, forests and forest management, endangered wildlife populations, critical watersheds and high risk habitations. While drone-AI is a scary proposition, as it is mostly driven by the military and commercial interests, the same deep learning programs, coupled with the automation aerial surveillance of drone monitoring of Indigenous territories could be used as a powerful tool for Indigenous sovereignty actions.
In the Anishinabe world-view, the most important person in a ceremonial context is called askabewis, or “helper”. With design care and Indigenous protocols at its core, AI could be an incredibly powerful skabe working on behalf and towards the future of our communities. Seeing the opportunity in deep learning programs, and treating them as oshkaabewis rather than a skynet, is key to guiding the ethical and productive use of future AI.
Scott Benesiinaabandan (Anishinaabe) is an Anishinaabe intermedia artist that works primarily in photography, video, audio, and printmaking. Scott has completed international residencies at Parramatta Artist Studios in Australia, Context Gallery in Derry, North of Ireland, and University Lethbridge/Royal Institute of Technology’s iAIR residency, along with international collaborative projects in both the U.K and Ireland. Scott is currently based in Montreal where he is completing an MFA in Photography and a year-long Canada Council New Media Production grant through AbTeC and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Through this project, he is investigating virtual reality as a medium. Benesiinaabandan has taken part in several notable exhibitions across Canada and internationally: Harbourfront’s Flatter the Land/Bigger the Ruckus (2006), Subconscious City at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (2008), GHOSTDANCE at Ryerson Image Centre (2013) and solo exhibitions including unSacred at Gallery 1C03 ( Winnipeg, 2011) and Mii Omaa Ayaad/Oshiki Inendemowin (Sydney, 2012) in Blood Memories (Melbourne, 2013), little resistances at Platform Gallery (Winnipeg, 2015), The Fifth World (Saskatoon, 2015) and most recently Insurgence/Resurgence (Winnipeg, 2017). Benesiinaabandan has received multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts Council and Conseil des arts des lettre du Quebec. His work can be found in a number of private, provincial, and national collections.
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.