Preserving Hawaiian culture through computer science

By Chloe Reynolds

Growing up, computer scientist Carrie Noe noticed that there weren’t many video games that accurately depicted her homeland, the Hawaiian Islands. It says that those who have almost always demonstrated crime on the islands or insisted on including zombies have almost always been on the islands.

So she decided to use her arithmetic skills to paint a more accurate and accurate picture of the Hawaii that she knew and loved. At the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization and Application (LAVA) at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Curry has encoded a range of innovative interactions from immersive digital tours of island jungles to virtual reality experiences on her native island, Kauai.

When YR spoke to Kari, we realized there are ways art and technology can collide to preserve the best parts of culture. You still think we should be wary of AI though…

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Chloe Reynolds, YR Contributor: Tell us why you chose to study computer science in the first place.

Carrie Noe: Being from Kawashi City, when I was in school, they didn’t actually have a lot of programs for computer science or programming. They have robots. I got into the world of robotics, knowing nothing about robotics. They let me do more IT work on the computer; I was setting up computers. That was the first start that got me interested in computers.

For a school project I made a small video game using an HTML file. From there, when I was in high school, I was like, ‘Okay, this was really fun. I really want to learn how to make video games.’ I continued my major in computer science at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Commercial Record: What project are you working on now? What makes it special?

KN: I’m currently working on a mixed reality environment at the Create(x) Emerging Media Lab, at the University of Hawaii at West Oʻahu. In this space we project the video onto the three walls of the lab to create an immersive environment. The environments are modeled after the actual location. So for my demo, it’s designed to be Kauai’s Wainiha Valley.

Being a Kauaʻi, I have a particular fondness for Wainiha Valley from camping in the valley to helping eradicate invasive plants. The main idea behind the development of this project was that the more users program new items in Hawaii, the more abundant and diverse the forest would be.

CR: How can augmented reality and virtual reality be used for the greater good?

KN: Technology is always a double-edged sword. For virtual, augmented or extended reality technologies, they have a lot of good features because it is a very interesting experience for someone because you feel the presence. There is a lot of conversation or debate about whether virtual reality can actually improve empathy. Just being in these experiences affects how people see things.

CR: How is AI changing computer science?

KN: AI is really exploding, and we’re actually using it in our daily lives now. It will grow quickly. You will get smarter. However, I feel there are a lot of questions we still need to ask ourselves such as: How much privacy are you giving up? How do you create a competency in the general public to understand what AI can do?

I find a lot of people have to talk about it [how] Algorithms that do machine learning are biased because they still learn from whatever data you give them. AI results have yet to be looked at and investigated and are not 100 percent trusted.

CR: Is there a void in your field of work and you see that your contributions meet this need?

KN: It’s like Jurassic Park: We didn’t ask if we should We make it, we just asked if we could I make it. What you find is that a lot of very exciting techniques, they can be implemented quickly, and we don’t think about the backlash or the effects that are going on.

When I discovered opportunities for research and how extended reality technologies can help preserve culture and language learning, that was when I really got into it.

CR: What advice would you give to young people looking to break into your world?

KN: Be passionate. Then go. Try to be strategic in the environment. It’s really nice not to be the smartest person in the room, even if it’s scary. It is really good to be surrounded by people who are better than you, because you will learn from them.

CR: How would you like your legacy to be remembered?

NN: I would really like to see more technology that is more efficient in Hawaiian culture, more technology that helps us preserve and practice our culture, whether it’s through the ways we use science here and mythology methodologies that we have here in Hawaii for scientific research, or How do we tell stories. If the work I do inspires more people to create technologies and projects like this I will be very happy.