Digital Futures with Cosmo-Ubuntu
AAI for Good, a global summit hosted by XPRIZE and ITU, about machine translation and cognitive code switching. Today’s episode explores the concept of Cosmo-uBuntu, an approach to technological innovation that addresses issues of global justice and helps us better understand personhood in AI praxis. Hosted by S. Ama Wray, an associate professor at UC Irvine and co-founder of AI for Africa, with guests Vukosi Marivate, Jose Cossa and Jackie Berry, highlight the cultural and individual differences in direct interaction with different technology interfaces based on the cultural reading practices of non-Western and African peoples, with thoughts on how these works can reverse the trend toward exclusively Anglophone digital futures in Africana worlds while conducting proactive restoration of African epistemologies.
Dr. S. Ama Wray, is a self-described Performance Architect and is an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of California, Irvine. Through dance methods she innovates across disciplinary lines, collaborating widely with practitioners from music, new media, health, visual art and theater. She is one of the co-Founders of AI 4 Afrika, inspired by AI for Good, and also the Africana Institute for Creativity Recognition and Elevation. In 2018 she received the 2018 Emerging Scholar Award from the African Diaspora SIG of the Comparative International Education Society. Her research into improvisation through the lens of West African performance, specifically Ewe, is burgeoning into a new interdisciplinary field, an integrative study of the optimization of human performance. The outcomes include Embodiology® an inclusive movement and mind method, optimizing creativity, empathy and wellbeing. As a consequence of COVID-19 she has created online wellness practice - Embodying Resilience - to maintain vitality and create community. Her creative praxis as relates to digital domains began in the U.K as recipient of the 2003 National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts Fellowship, producing the prize-winning Texterritory. Integrating a cellphone performance platform it transforms audiences into co-creators in live performance settings. As founding Artistic Director of JazzXchange Wray continues to elevate jazz music in the concert dance setting, collaborating with artists including: Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Nicole Mitchell, Gary Crosby, OBE, Zoe Rahman and Julian Joseph, OBE. Her academic writing on Embodiology® and also Jazz Dance have been published by Oxford Books, Routledge and Florida University Press.
Dr. Vukosi Marivate is the ABSA UP Chair of Data Science at the University of Pretoria. Vukosi works on developing Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence methods to extract insights from data. A large part of his work over the last few years has been in the intersection of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. Vukosi is interested in Data Science for Social Impact, using local challenges as a springboard for research. In this area, Vukosi has worked on projects in science, energy, public safety and utilities. Vukosi is a founder of the Deep Learning Indaba, the largest Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence workshop on the African continent, aiming to strengthen African Machine Learning.
José Cossa, Ph.D., is a Mozambican scholar, writer/author, researcher, poet, blogger, “Twitterer”, podcaster, entrepreneur, and an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Pennsylvania State University. Most recently, Cossa served as a Visiting Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the American University in Cairo and a Senior Lecturer at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Cossa holds a Ph.D. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies with a depth area in Comparative and International Education from Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of the book Power, Politics, and Higher Education: International Regimes, Local Governments, and Educational Autonomy, the recipient of the 2012 Joyce Cain Award for Distinguished Research on People of African Descent, awarded by the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), and a member of the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Panel of Judges for two consecutive competitions (Inaugural Challenge and 2019/2020). Cossa’s research focus is on power dynamics in negotiation over educational policy; unveiling issues inherent in the promise of modernity and working towards decolonizing, de-bordering, de-peripheralizing, and de-centering the world; higher education policy and administration; system transfer; international development; and, global and social justice. In addition, Cossa is currently engaging in a new (exterior to modernity) theorizing, i.e., Cosmo-uBuntu, to offer alternative theoretical grounding to research, analysis, and practice.
Dr. Jackie Berry is a Cognitive Scientist studying visual perception, human-computer interaction, and expertise. Dr. Berry was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar at the American University in Cairo for the 2019-2020 academic year where she served as a teacher and researcher. Her work focused on TetLag which is the brief performance dip caused by switching to a different, but familiar, computer interface. Jackie holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Master of Science in Human Factors Psychology, a Master of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Cognitive Psychology. She was the first person at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to collect online research data and the first African-American to graduate with a Doctorate in Cognitive Psychology from the State University of New York at the University in Albany. Her major research projects include developing a new model of geometric feature detection for English letter recognition, studying task switching in older adults, and investigating attentional capture during visual search. During her Fulbright U.S. Scholar award year Dr. Berry investigated whether Arabic-English biliterates might be better able to switch between different interfaces and configurations for the same task because they must regularly alternate between different orientations of text in reading, writing, and technology use in their daily lives. She wishes to continue this research with other “bidirectional biliterates” such as biliterate speakers of Hebrew and Chinese.
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