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Department of Computer Science and Technology

Friday, 3 May, 2024 - 13:00 to 14:00
Aaditeshwar Seth, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
FW11, William Gates Building. Zoom link:

With weather patterns becoming erratic, rural communities in India dependent upon agriculture, livestock, and forests for their sustenance face an intersecting crisis of environment, livelihood, and social justice. Navigating this crisis requires a multi-dimensional approach of sustainable natural resource management, done in an equitable manner to benefit the most marginalized populations, and with collectivization efforts to improve consensus building and cooperation in communities. Can data and digital technologies play a role here? I will describe the complexity of socio-ecological problems in the context of rural central India and opportunities for ICT-based interventions that can enable communities to build a shared understanding of changes taking place in their landscape, use it to plan and demand natural resource management works, and bring changes in their day-to-day resource utilization and regeneration practices. Our work leverages geospatial algorithms, machine learning on satellite data, and novel data oranization and visualization ideas, that sit in a technology stack of building blocks on which further new innovations can be created. We are also attempting a co-creation methodology to build this stack through collaboration across disciplines and borders, to solve for complexities that are beyond a single research group to manage. Bio: Aaditeshwar Seth is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and co-founder of the social technology enterprise Gram Vaani. He is passionate about building appropriate technologies and participatory tools that can empower marginalized and oppressed communities to collectivize and voice themselves. Several million people, and over 150 organizations worldwide, have directly touched technology platforms built by Aaditeshwar’s team at Gram Vaani and his students at the ACT4D (Appropriate Computing Technologies for Development) research group at IIT Delhi. Many elements of their work have also been adopted by government departments and have influenced the use of technologies for development in the social sector. He is a recipient of the ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award for 2022. His book published in 2022, Technology and (Dis)Empowerment: A Call to Technologists, argues that the primary goal of technologists should be to bring equality and overturn unjust social and economic structures through their inventions. He is currently focused on building the CoRE Stack (Commoning for Resilience and Equality), a digital public infrastructure for climate change adaptation, using which rural communities can be empowered with tools that enable them to manage their landscapes in a sustainable manner.

Seminar series: 
Energy and Environment Group