Culture and Storytelling in the Age of AI Interactive Workshops by IVOW

Room 1, Level 1, CICG

Joining us in Geneva are global AI experts, storytellers, and developers from around the world who work in the space of AI, culture, and storytelling. Through panel conversations and interactive sessions, they will tackle the various challenges, roadblocks, and opportunities with this new technology and ask these questions: Can storytelling build capacity in AI systems? Can stories help machines develop Cultural IQ?

The sessions, led by thought leaders from Mexico, Pakistan, Tonga, Fiji, and the United States, will explore pioneering research on automated storytelling and include hands-on workshops on standard methodologies and structured data collection for cultural engines as one of the keys to training algorithms to be more culturally aware. In addition, the workshops will delve into ethical and historical considerations as we create the foundations for deeply inclusive AI. The stories featured on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, for instance, are exactly the ones future computer programs, machines, and robots need to understand. These stories embody who we are as humans and what makes our heritage unique.


  • Davar Ardalan, Founder and Storyteller in Chief at IVOW

09:00 – 09:01 – Opening film

09:01 – 09:15 – Welcome

  • Davar Ardalan, Founder and Storyteller in Chief at IVOW
  • Amir Banifatemi, General Manager, XPRIZE

Thank you to Flybits for content sponsorship of our workshop

09:15 – 09:25- Opening keynote

  • Abdulaziz Almuzaini, Director of UNESCO’s Geneva Liaison Office

09:25 – 09:30- Jazz Performance: Ama Wray

Dr. Ama Wray is a dynamic force, a dance artist and scholar who innovates across disciplinary lines, leading with dance to enter spaces of music, theatre, academia, medicine, and technology. Her award-winning PhD research resulted in the discovery of “embodiology” a burgeoning new interdisciplinary field studying human performance; it centers upon indigenous concepts of “sensi-cognitive” modes of knowing that result in increased creativity and collaborative capacities. Innovation and invention have consistently been Wray’s modus operandi; she has collaborated with musicians and composer including Wynton Marsalis; Bobby McFerrin; Gary Crosby, OBE; Zoe Rahman; and Julian Joseph, OBE.

09:35 – 10:15 – Opening Panel: Can Global Storytelling Build Cultural AI Capacity?

We are witnessing a pivotal time in human history, as artificial intelligence is integrated into just about every new or established industry. Despite this promise there is still a global sense of mistrust. People ask, “What is AI and how is it relevant to me? How can we bridge the gap between people and AI?” The panel discusses ways to bring together data science, international development, and storytelling to create structured data around world cultures. Can storytellers capture their communities’ values and cultural heritage in metadata? Can AI preserve indigenous stories? Can endowing AI with a sense and understanding of culture bring machines closer to us as humans and make them easier to trust?


  • Davar Ardalan, CEO and Chief Storytelling Officer at IVOW
  • Wolfgang Victor Yarlott, AI Researcher, Florida International University
  • Mariana Lin, AI Writer, former Creative Director at Apple
  • Rafael Pérez y Pérez, AI scientist, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana at Cuajimalpa


  • David Danks, Ethics of AI, Carnegie Mellon University

10:15 – 10:30 – Lightning Talks: Why AI and Culture?


  • Uili Lousi​, Cultural Ambassador and renowned Tongan artist
  • Lydia Kostopoulos, Founder and Artist at #ArtAboutAI, Founder of Sapien21

10:30 – 11:00 – Coffee Break & Demo Stage

11:00 – 11:15 – Lightning Talk: ​Indigenous Nations, Innovation, and Intellectual Property in the Era of AI

Democratized and accessible digital technology offers unparalleled opportunities both for preserving and for misappropriating traditional cultural expressions. This lightning talk focuses on the prospects and limitations of conventional notions of intellectual property rights, and the possibilities for community-based systems of rights that recognize the intergenerational dimension and the broader equities of preserving and disseminating traditional culture. Beyond the formal framework of conventionally recognized legal rights, can new and adapted technology itself provide a means of strengthening and reinforcing customary forms of preserving and transmitting traditional cultures?


  • Antony Taubman,​ Director of Intellectual Property at the World Trade Organization

11:15 – 12:30 – Interactive Workshop 1: Narratives in AI

Recent advances in the field of AI are exciting. While technological and analytical challenges abound, the real keys to success are having a high degree of cultural sensitivity, empathy for the end-user, and design-orientation. In this workshop, we discuss the latest research in modern narrative techniques, including conversational interface technology and computational narrative intelligence. We highlight a few examples of pioneering technological advances towards cultural empathy, and introduce MEXICA, a computer-based storyteller inspired by the way humans write. We also showcase some of the underlying technological and cultural reasons and approaches for success.


  • Wolfgang Victor Yarlott, AI Researcher, Florida International University
  • Rafael Pérez y Pérez, AI scientist, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana at Cuajimalpa
  • Kashyap Coimbatore Murali, AI Researcher
  • Juanisa J. McCoy​, Lead Product Designer (UI/UX), IVOW
  • Inzamam Malik​, AI Developer, IVOW

12:30 – 14:00 – Lunch Break & Demo Stage

14:00 – 14:15 – Narratives in AI, continued: Homework Assignments

We share several activities that you can take with you to your community, family, company. Learn how to workshop your cultural engine; collaborate on a story exercise; and design your own conversational AI character

14:15 – 14:45 – Lightning Talks: Why Storytelling?


  • Emele Ugavule​, Creative Director of Talanoa Fiji
  • Cindy Guijosa, AI enthusiast, Computer Science student at the University of Maryland
  • Mohanty Sharada, CEO & Co-Founder, AIcrowd

14:45 – 16:00 – Interactive Workshop 2: Declaration of Citizen, Machine, and Culture

Considering lessons from history,​ ​we​ ​explore how human rights have evolved over time and been extended to women, minorities, workers, children, disabled, immigrants, refugees. We ask the audience to share their ideas and concerns about privacy, security, fairness, accountability, and openness. What are our rights and responsibilities in the digital universe? What should be included in a Declaration of Citizen, Machine, and Culture?


  • Inzamam Malik​, AI Developer, IVOW
  • Kee Malesky, Director of Research at IVOW and former NPR News Librarian
  • Juanisa McCoy, Senior UI/UX Designer, IVOW
  • Nicola McLay, creative designer and artist
  • Robert Malesky, Director of Content at IVOW and former Executive Producer at NPR News

16:00 – 16:20 – Next Steps and Final Act


  • Davar Ardalan, CEO and Chief Storytelling Officer at IVOW
  • Amir Banifatemi, General Manager, XPRIZE

16:20 – 16:30 – Final Performance: Harry Yeff aka Reeps One, Vocal, Visual and Concept Artist


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