Posted to the Ethnos Project by on November 13th, 2013

It may seem a strange match–AI and crop irrigation or AI and the Serengeti lions but researchers in Artificial Intelligence envision expert systems as a new technology for capturing the knowledge and reasoning process of experts in agriculture, wildlife management, and many other fields. These computer programs have a relevance for developing nations that desire to close the gap between themselves and the richer nations of the world. Despite the value and appeal of expert systems for economic and technological development, Schoenhoff discloses how this technology reflects the Western preoccupation with literacy and rationality. When expert systems are introduced into developing nations, they must interact with persons who reason and articulate their knowledge in ways unfamiliar to high-tech cultures. Knowledge, particularly in poor and and traditional communities, may be expressed in proverbs rather than propositions or in folklore rather than formulas. Drawing upon diverse disciplines, the author explores whether such indigenous knowledge can be incorporated into the formal language and artificial rationality of the computer-and the imperative for working toward this incorporation.

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