Indigenous Knowledge and AI

Indigenous knowledge, for the most part, exists in the form of oral histories, ancient texts in the original language, paper archives, and unstructured Wikipedia entries. How can their digital transformation into AI-suitable datasets represent an important step in helping future machines become aware of global cultures?

Speakers, Panelists and Moderators

    World-renowned chef leading the Pacific Island Food Revolution
    Robert Oliver is a New Zealand chef who was raised in Fiji and Samoa. He has developed restaurants in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Sydney, “farm to table” resorts in the Caribbean and food programs feeding homeless people and African immigrants with AIDS in New York City. Robert returned to the South Pacific to write his first book, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific (Random House, New Zealand), with Dr. Tracy Berno and Fiji photographer Shiri Ram. Written with a mission to connect Pacific agriculture to the regions tourism, Me’a Kai stunned the food world by winning top prize, “Best Cookbook in the World 2010,” at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris, considered to be the Pulitzers of cookbooks, beating the books from NOMA and The New York Times. In 2013, Robert released “Mea’ai Samoa: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia” (Random House). In May 2014, this book won the “Best TV Chef Cookbook in the World 2013” at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Beijing. Robert is Chef Ambassador for Le Cordon Bleu, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and is the presenter of REAL PASIFIK, a television series based on the food culture of the South Pacific. He is a features contributor to The Huffington Post (New York) and Global Gourmet Beijing. Robert was a keynote speaker at TEDx Auckland in 2013 and was one of the authors chosen to represent New Zealand at the Frankfurt Bookfair in 2012 and between 2011 & 2012 Consulting Chef for NZ Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) in China (based in Shanghai). In 2014 and 2015 Robert appeared as one of the Tasting Panel judges in “My Kitchen Rules New Zealand” and co hosted “Marae Kai Masters” with renowned actor Te Kohe Tuhaka on Maori TV”.
    Co-Founder and Director
    Agora Food Studio
    Agora Food Studio is a plant-foward restaurant created by the Timor-Leste Food Lab - a social enterprise dedicated to mentoring future food and coffee innovators. The Timor-Leste Food Lab represents a community of people that believe in a simple, but powerful idea: "Food should be good, clean and fair for producers, eaters and the environment. We believe in a food system that celebrates biodiversity and nourishes the planet; a food system that creates healthy communities where everyone can eat, and eat well." We are based in Timor-Leste, located 8.8 degrees south of the equator. This half-island nation is part of a greater archipelagic region with profound food diversity and bio-cultural history that we hope to research, experiment, taste and document, and then share to a wider audience. Every day is an exploration.
    Author, Founder, Owner
    Avicenna Cuisine
    Samira Ardalan is an author, culinary producer and Mediterranean health & wellness entrepreneur living in McLean, Virginia. By the age of 12, Samira had mastered cooking Thanksgiving and Nowruz (Iranian New Year) family feasts. After graduating from Towson University with a degree in Business Management, Samira became the Marketing Manager at the Capella Hotel in Georgetown, a luxury residential-style retreat newly opening in the heart of Washington D.C. There she worked with chefs on designing creative, seasonally inspired culinary campaigns and social engagement. Her professional training in cooking and hotel restaurant management throughout Baltimore and Washington, D.C. fueled her passion for modernizing culinary and health traditions from history's past. Her fascination with Persian culinary anthropology in particular led to the publication of three books including Avicenna Cuisine in 2015. Additionally, Samira has trained and networked with some of the most prominent teachers and experts in the field of Iranian Traditional Medicine also known as Tibb Medicine, including Professor Hakima Amri, Professor and co-founder of the CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) graduate program at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and Samira's grandmother, Laleh Bakhtiar, Editor-at-large of Avicenna's Canon of Medicine English translation by Kazi Publications.
    Head of Research & AI
    Burr Settles is the Head of Research & AI at Duolingo, the world’s largest language-learning platform with the mission of making education free and accessible to all. In his role, Burr spearheads the AI strategy for Duolingo’s learning app and the Duolingo English Test. He is the author of Active Learning, the standard text on adaptive machine learning algorithms. His research has been published in Cognitive Science as well as major AI venues such as NuerIPS, ICML, and AAAI, and has been covered by The New York Times, Slate, Forbes, WIRED, and BBC. Previously, Burr was a postdoc at Carnegie Mellon and earned a PhD from UW-Madison.
    Founder and Storyteller; AI for Culture preservation Solution Track Co-Chair
    IVOW AI, Inc.
    Davar Ardalan is the Founder and Storyteller in Chief of IVOW, an early stage startup specializing in AI-driven cultural content, aiming to make navigating the global marketplace easier via cultural analysis. She is also the former Deputy Director of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellowship Program in Washington D.C. Prior to this, she was a public broadcasting journalist for two decades at NPR News, where she designed stories anchored in multiculturalism and steeped in historical context. In 2015, her last position at NPR was senior producer of the Identity and Culture Unit. Realizing that there is a gaping hole in AI algorithms that will define our future, she created IVOW, bringing together a team of journalists and technologists to design cultural IQ in AI. At NPR, as a Senior Producer of Weekend Edition and Morning Edition, Ardalan was responsible for editorial and production decisions that required elaborate coordination and planning, such as shaping Morning Edition broadcasts from Baghdad, Kabul and New Orleans. Ardalan has also served as Director of Storytelling at the open innovation agency SecondMuse. There, she helmed storytelling efforts for various campaigns, including NASA's International Space Apps Challenge and Australian Aid innovation programs in Timor-Leste, Tonga and Fiji. Ardalan, who has also served as Executive Producer at Hanson Robotics, has been recognized with a 2017 NASA Team Leadership award for Space Apps, a Gracie Award from the American Women in Radio and Television and a shout-out in the popular comic strip Zippy. In May 2014, she was the recipient of a United States Ellis Island Medal of Honor for individual achievement and for promoting cultural unity. Ardalan began her radio career as a reporter in 1991 at NPR Member Station KUNM in Albuquerque, NM. In 1984, she was an English news anchor at IRIB News broadcasting throughout the Persian Gulf Region.
    Conversational AI Writer
    Chamisa is a citizen of the Navajo Nation, Blackfeet and Shoshone-Bannock and resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous and American Indian Studies, with an emphasis in Tribal Sovereignty, from Haskell Indian Nations University. She is currently working toward a Masters in Computer Science. She is a certified full stack developer and has worked on various web development and robotics projects in her post-baccalaureate career. Chamisa worked for Hanson Robotics as a conversational AI character writer for Sophia the Robot and at CNM Ingenuity as an Assistant Instructor for the Deep Dive Coding Fullstack Bootcamp. In addition to high tech projects, Chamisa is also interested in exploring how North American tribes and Indigenous populations around the world can leverage technology while exercising tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
    Senior Software Engineer
    Tracy Monteith is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee and Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft. His decades-long work as an innovative technologist and leader have produced unique results on a global scale. Tracy has received a first place finish in world’s largest private hackathon (23K participants, 400 cities world-wide) for AI approach to translating tribal-polymorphic languages and a second place finish for an IoT, cloud-connected beehive-sensor array. His passion for hackathons is shared with thousands of STEM-focussed tribal students across North America as he conducts hackathons for tribal schools. Tracy was the driving force and technical-innovator behind the inclusion of the Cherokee Syllabary in Windows and Office, the first tribal language with that distinction. His work continues with enhancing polymorphic-languages preservation and dissemination through the infusion of appropriate technology into indigenous circles.
    AI Researcher
    Florida International University
    Wolfgang Victor Yarlott is a member of the Native American Crow tribe. Yarlott’s pioneering research took place with the Genesis Story Understanding System at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. In collaboration with his Professor Patrick Winston, Yarlott wanted to determine whether the system could understand stories from Crow folklore as well as it understood the works of Shakespeare. At first his “audience” was the program itself — he wanted to instill an understanding.
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09 Jun 2020


CEST, Geneva
16:00 - 17:00