MASc scholar discusses Indigenous Perspective on the Ethics of Machine Learning

Masters of Science in Computer Engineering
Cameron Bishop

Cameron Bishop, an MASc candidate in Computer Engineering, visited the Vector Institute during National Indigenous History Month to share a presentation on the intersection of Indigeneity and Machine Learning to an audience directly invested in Artificial Intelligence.

The Vector Institute — founded in 2017 and supported by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, private industry, and in partnership with universities in Ontario — works to empower researchers, businesses, and governments to develop and adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) responsibly.

Bishop, a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, is a recipient of the Vector Scholarship in AI.

After reviewing the state of Machine Learning in 2023, he introduced the history and common worldviews of Indigenous peoples, that at first appear at odds with data driven models designed to abstract identifying traits of individuals and communities. He then emphasized the importance of “the human element” in AI, that these seeming complications are necessary to work through in developing datasets that benefit everyone.

“While many people are subconsciously aware of many key ethical issues of AI,” he said, “most are unaware of the true extent and systemic forces driving these problems.”

“I hope people begin to critically think about the technologies they work on or with. With my perspective in mind, they can start to form their own, educated view of these issues, and start important discussions with their peers, friends, and family.”

Bishop recently presented on the topic at a national gathering of AISES, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. In that instance, the perspective was flipped; to an audience of Indigenous post-secondary students in the sciences, his message was a reminder that they have an important role to play in improving representation and equity in the development of AI technologies.

This article originally appeared on the Queen's Faculty of Engineering website here.