Can We Train the Next Generation ​of #AI Storytellers to be Culturally Conscious?

Davar Ardalan
Apr 24, 2018 · 3 min read
IVOW’s Davar Ardalan together with AI experts Marine Carpuat and Mark Riedl as well as Dr. Nader Vadiee, Teresa Gomez and Chamisa Edmo of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute presenting yesterday at the #AICulture Symposium at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

On Monday, April 23, some 50 thought leaders joined a day-long Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Culture Symposium at Morgan State University, together with another 300,000 that were reached through the #AICulture hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Representatives from the United Nations, the Australian Aid program’s innovationXchange, Management Systems International as well as renowned machine learning experts, educators, journalists, technologists, and business leaders from across the US and Mexico participated in the symposium to engage in the latest research on AI as a tool for culturally rich storytelling.

AI & Culture expert Rafael Pérez y Pérez was one of the thought leaders attending the symposium. A professor at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana at Cuajimalpa, México City, he specializes in artificial intelligence and computational creativity, particularly in automatic narrative generation. Perez is the author of MEXICA 20, short narratives developed by the computer program MEXICA. Plots describe fictional situations related to the Mexicas (also known as Aztecs), ancient inhabitants of what today is Mexico City.

Ellen Yount of Management Systems International (far left) along with Nisa McCoy of IVOW, Louise Stoddard of the United Nations and AI expert Rafael Perez y Perez at the Baltimore #AICulture symposium.

“To tell compelling stories about those living in the developing world — including lack of water, the impact of climate change, the need for girls’ education, and the dire consequences of conflict — it’s very important that we make sure that those least advantaged and often ‘unheard’ are able to tell their stories using their eyes and voice. Looking at the role that AI plays in that journey is critical,” said Ellen Yount, Vice President, Management Systems International (MSI).

One of the interactive workshops focused on how inclusive algorithms can create cultural impact. The panel featured AI expert Mark Finlayson of Florida International University, IVOW’s Nisa McCoy, Lisha Bell of Pipeline Angels, and SBA Business Technologist Nagesh Rao.

IVOW’s team of journalists and data scientists are collaborating with renowned ethnographer/photographer Miguel Gandert focusing on the Mexican cultural traditions of the American Southwest. Gandert, who also attended the symposium, was born in Española in 1956, and raised in Santa Fe where he developed an interest in photography. Since then he has captured in pictures not only the people and landscape of New Mexico, but their history, culture, and social norms as well. Gandert is also a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

AI expert W. Victor Yarlott at the #AICulture symposium in Baltimore, Maryland

There was also a group conversation about the need for some kind of “Declaration of Citizen, Machine, and Culture” that considered the rights and responsibilities of human beings in the digital universe. The final workshop looked at the future of journalism as intelligent narrative that is truthful and inclusive and gives voice to the underrepresented.

The event was co-hosted by Morgan State University and IVOW, our AI-powered cultural storytelling platform. Symposium sponsors included Management Systems International, Florida International University, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. We’ll be reporting on the #AICulture symposium with a multimedia series in the next week.

IVOW Team members Robert Malesky, Ben Kreimer, Dr. Mahmudur Rahman (Advisor Morgan State), Joy Elias, Cindy Guijosa, Davar Ardalan, Nisa McCoy, and Simin Kargar at Morgan State University.

Davar Ardalan

IVOW Founder and Storyteller in Chief

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