[CODATA-international] Ethical issues of Digital Feudalism affecting Indigeneous communities

Romola Thumbadoo rvthumbadoo at gcrc.carleton.ca
Tue Jul 28 16:01:37 EDT 2020

Greetings,  Dr. Suchith Anand,

Thank you for initiating this important and timely discussion  - and for your request for studies and papers that might inform your own paper.

As per Professor Taylor’s message, attached please find a copy of the book chapter that is now in press.

Best wishes,


Romola V. Thumbadoo 
PhD Geography, SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow 
Personal Assistant to The Director, Dr. D. R. Fraser Taylor
Research and Administration, 613-520-3979
Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC)
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies 
Carleton University     
www.gcrc.carleton.ca <http://www.gcrc.carleton.ca/>
        rvthumbadoo at gcrc.carleton.ca <mailto:rvthumbadoo at gcrc.carleton.ca>
Coordinator, Circle of All Nations, 613-599-8385
Legacy Work of Indigenous Elder William Commanda, OC, PhD
www.circleofallnations.ca <http://www.circleofallnations.ca/>; www.asinabka.com <http://www.asinabka.com/>
circleofallnations at sympatico.ca <mailto:circleofallnations at sympatico.ca>

On Jul 28, 2020, at 10:54 AM, Fraser Taylor <FraserTaylor at Cunet.Carleton.Ca> wrote:

Good Morning Tracey,
Thank you for this important intervention. I was about to write to Suchith along the same lines. I am about to publish a new book chapter which captures some of my recent thinking on our long experience of mapping with Indigenous people which touches on some of the important issues. This is not yet published but has some useful references on the work we have been doing with Teresa Scassa and others. I will ask Romola to send you and Suchith the final version which went off to the publisher today. The editor of the volume is Janet Hess. Suchith there is much more but this will give you a start. Romola perhaps you would be good enough to send this.

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From: CODATA-international <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org> on behalf of Tracey P. Lauriault <tlauriau at gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2020 9:45:05 PM
To: Suchith Anand <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>
Cc: CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org>
Subject: Re: [CODATA-international] Ethical issues of Digital Feudalism affecting Indigeneous communities
[External Email]

Your intentions are good, but feudalism and colonialism are not the same thing, and they do not play out the same way across different states, nor within them.  Indigenous peoples in Canada, First Nations, Metis and Inuit have their own systems of data sovereignty and there are many others, Prof. Taylor for one, who have been doing post colonial cartography, counter cartography and building infrastructure, there is also much data reclamation and a shift in classification systems and so on.

I might suggest that you defer to the long standing work in this space, also, "If about us then with us".  If you are to engage in this work, then you must work with Indigenous peoples and not engage in this work on people's behalf.


On Sun, Jul 26, 2020 at 8:59 AM Suchith Anand <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk <mailto:Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>> wrote:

Dear colleagues,

I am working on an article for EthicalGEO [1] on Ethics of Digital Feudalism in Location Data  .There are many ethical questions  that arise when  Digital Feudalism, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Location Data  intersect [2].  Details at 
https://www.rd-alliance.org/group/geospatial-ig/post/ethics-digital-feudalism-gis <https://www.rd-alliance.org/group/geospatial-ig/post/ethics-digital-feudalism-gis>

I came across an article on Indigenous Data Sovereignty at
https://medium.com/technology-solidarity/indigenous-data-sovereignty-in-southeast-asia-with-pyrou-chung-b462db048cfe <https://medium.com/technology-solidarity/indigenous-data-sovereignty-in-southeast-asia-with-pyrou-chung-b462db048cfe>

I am interested  to learn more on Ethical issues of Digital Feudalism  affecting Indigeneous communities.  There are approximately 476 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide, in over 90 countries. Although they make up over 6 percent of the global population, they account for about 15 percent of the extreme poor. They safeguard 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. The land on which they live and the natural resources on which they depend are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures, livelihoods, as well as their physical and spiritual well-being. I respect the kindness, resilience, dignity and strength of indigenous peoples around the world.

As Indigeneous communities play a key role as guardians of forests and biodiversity , are there any studies or any articles on the impact of AI based GIS/location platforms for Indigeneous communities? 

As some big GIS cloud platform companies/vendors also have verticals in the mining industry, oil & gas  etc, are there any ethical guidelines so that AI tools and insights developed in forest monitoring, conservation, biodiversity projects by AI based platforms are not used by the platform vendors for mining projects  in forests in the future? 

How will Digital Feudalism affect the economically poor? Are there any ethical guidelines to protect the rights of Indigeneous communities?   Are there any studies or any articles on the impact of AI based GIS/location platforms for Indigeneous communities? If so, please email me the publication details by 10th August 2020  so I can learn more and reference them in my article. Thanks.

Best wishes,


[1] https://ethicalgeo.org <https://ethicalgeo.org/>
[2] https://www.godan.info/news/ethical-dimensions-digital-feudalism-agriculture <https://www.godan.info/news/ethical-dimensions-digital-feudalism-agriculture>

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Tracey P. Lauriault
Assistant Professor, Critical Media and Big Data
Communication and Media Studies
School of Journalism and Communication
Carleton University
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