Artificial Intelligence and Pinnguaq

Artificial Intelligence and Pinnguaq

May 30, 2024

By Ryan Oliver

I’ve struggled with where Pinnguaq fits in the Artificial Intelligence landscape since Chat GPT launched in late 2022. Like many of you, we were impressed and excited by the early promise of the work Open A.I. was doing. However, as with anything promising to be the “next big thing” out of Silicon Valley, we approached it with a healthy amount of skepticism.

We are still only one hype cycle away from the Metaverse flop and still rolling through the endless grifting of the Crypto/NFT promise to save commerce, the arts and democracy. Skepticism in technological promise is always a healthy first step.

In early January 2023, we formed an “A.I. Working Group,” bringing together a number of strong thinkers from within and outside the organisation to deal with the bigger questions around AI and start to determine how we should (or shouldn’t) be using it within the organisation. We heard from artists, coders, and educators, and together, this group produced the framework that would become our first AI policy in March 2023.

Pinnguaq has four core values that guide everything we do:

  • Sustainability in our work,
  • Community Centered CoDesign,
  • Equity-focused delivery and;
  • Creativity in what we do.

The use of artificial intelligence to create our work would be in direct violation of the values of community-centred co-design and creativity. It would not serve to create a sustainable, long-term impact in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities in Canada, and robbing storytellers and artists of their livelihood would not be in the spirit of an equity-focused approach to community support.

That said, we recognize that ignoring artificial intelligence in our education work risks doing a disservice to the communities that trust us. Since the very first te(a)ch session, our goal has been to help bridge the gap between consuming technology and understanding, analysis, and critical thought on the role it can play in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities throughout Canada.

Cover Art: Root & STEM Issue 4

One year later, the landscape of A.I. and Large Language Models (L.L.M.) continues to evolve, and our policy is evolving with it. Since the beginning, our A.I. Policy has banned and continues to ban the use of artificial intelligence in art. Pinnguaq employs artists, and we are committed to never replacing them with artificial intelligence. We cannot accurately centre or reflect the communities we serve by replacing their artists with artificial ones.

Large Language Models like Chat GPT are heavily restricted. We hire writers to create Root & STEM, write our modules, and shape our curriculum. Communities trust us to represent their stories and teachings accurately; a GPT cannot do that.

Artificial intelligence to replace our creative and community-centred producers is a non-starter.

That said, the Pinnguaq Association has committed to incorporating teachings and learning about artificial intelligence into our delivery. We will continue to follow, participate in and analyze the path of A.I. and L.L.M. to ensure we separate hype from reality.

Root & STEM magazine has already produced two issues (Issue 4 and Issue 8) focused on artificial intelligence. They have featured stories and curricula designed for rural, remote, and Indigenous communities across Canada.

Our program delivery will be in every province and territory this year. Delivering skills workshops for people of all ages and how we work with artificial intelligence and use it to serve our communities will be a significant focus of that approach. We continue to evolve our courses and modules as quickly as artificial intelligence itself is evolving.

We will always strive to strike a balance between Silicon Valley’s untested hype and the reality of what our communities tell us they need on the ground. Our core values will be at the centre of that approach, ensuring we do not replace the incredible creatives who shape the cultures and ideas of the communities we serve.