Traditional Knowledge Merges with Modern Science to Create Tech for Good

Nikki Diefenbach

For the last two years, MIT Solve has issued challenges to find solutions to our world’s most pressing problems and committed more than $7 million in funding to promising Solver teams. This year, MIT Solve is offering the first Indigenous Communities Fellowship. Fellows, who must be at least 14 (with a strong preference given to tribal members) and in the Oceti Sakowin, Navajo Nation, or Hopi Tribe communities, will receive at least $10,000 in funding. The goal is to support tech entrepreneurs in these Indigenous communities who will advance solutions to grow economic development and resiliency.

According to the website for the Indigenous Communities Fellowship, MIT Solve is seeking solutions that:

  • Enable new skill development and create employment opportunities that help sustain natural and cultural resources
  • Support native youth in creating new business ventures
  • Provide access to technology and connectivity
  • Connect local business owners to accessible capital and markets

Denise Williams is a member of the Leadership group for the fellowship and CEO of the First Nations Technology Council in Canada. SuperPosition has previously reported on their work towards reconciliation for Indigenous communities through tech equality.

Williams, in an article for MIT Solve, says:

True innovation requires a diversity of thought, and the world view of Indigenous peoples can challenge mainstream western ideology. This perspective will expand our collective understanding of what it means to be human in a time of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual environments.What we code into these technological systems today will define our future as a species. Who better to write that code than those who carry the wisdom of our most experienced innovators?

With over 15,000 years of experience and an emphasis on sustainable wisdom, the knowledge Indigenous communities can bring to the tech table will benefit everyone.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. What can you do to facilitate access to digital technology in Indigenous Communities?

Q2. What are some examples of the wisdom of your own ancestors that you can use for good in the digital age?

Q3. Is equitable access to technology for Indigenous communities important or not important for humanity, and why?