Artificial intelligence in Africa

Posted on October 4, 2017 12:09 am

Although African countries are spending large amount of money on automation, the continent is a laggard in both the skills needed for take up and plans to integrate artificial intelligence.Despite some countries punching above their weight in artificial intelligence research, the continent is failing to embrace the technology in the business sector, according to a research your blogger has obtained.Within the next six to 10 years, African businesses will see use of autonomous cars, buses, trucks, and robot advisors competing for jobs with people.In research terms, researchers think some African countries are punching above their weight.They are concerned Africa is lagging behind other regions when it comes to embracing this form of computer intelligence within our businesses.The study examined organizations from ten different countries in Africa and found that most of them have no plans to implement artificial intelligence within businesses.Learning from e-books, working with emails, closing deals with clients via apps and seeing outer space through Google Earth, the society is slowly becoming more digital and virtual. Humanity is at a crucial milestone due to technological developments. After the cloud era, we are now progressing to artificial intelligence. There is no doubt artificial intelligence will ultimately drive business growth in Africa.On the other hand, African countries are currently seeing the manifestations and ramifications of two of the business world’s key technologies namely artificial intelligence and block chain. Both are expected to fundamentally change how financial and professional operations are conducted in Africa.Currently, blockchain technologies are being explored through research and start-ups looking to implement the purely digital ledger. In South Africa, researchers are exploring how blockchain could support the country, along with the risks it presents. Artificial intelligence has quickly infiltrated several aspects of Africans lives like facial recognition being used by intelligence services to track criminals, the technology has the potential to revolutionize how Africans view work, learn, discover and communicate. African scientists involved in the research also know that artificial intelligence is a transformational technology that holds promise for tremendous social economical benefits.Artificial intelligence can further African countries priorities including increased economic growth, prosperity, improved educational opportunity, and quality of life. It also has the potential to enhance security as well.In one of the research in South Africa that focuses on computer vision, deep learning and statistical learning, a researcher told your blogger recently she believes artificial intelligence is about better understanding what human intelligence is, after all, the aim of artificial intelligence is to equip machines with human intelligence.She believes such human intelligence can be broken down into four areas mainly learning, perceiving, reasoning and behaving and holds the view that if humans can put such capabilities into machines, those machines will be able to carry out functions like humans, or even better.

In South Africa, artificial intelligence technologies have been widely applied to various applications, from forms of transportation, communications, entertainment, government, security and medical services.She however told your blogger that artificial intelligence is a broad concept that isn’t just about wiring information but it also comprises several components that are related to many areas, such as data mining, image processing, cognitive sciences, psychology and mechanical engineering.Her research looks at various signals that are used in artificial intelligence and this has involved work around tracking and recognizing objects, such as object detection, single object tracking and multiple object tracking. Related to that is learning ability, which is then also related to the ability of reasoning and behaving. If learning is successful then a lot of those things can become much easier and that means we needed to learn something from the data we have.Several African countries are helping to make significant contributions to artificial intelligence, but the developed countries are taking the lead on several aspects because they are home to some of the best artificial intelligence companies.South Africa is also excelling, with government-funded institutes taking the lead and is largely because the country has a national strategy and artificial intelligence plans and have invested a lot of money in fundamental artificial intelligence research areas. Artificial intelligence and technology have broad application prospects in manufacturing, medical care and entertainment, a lot of applications so it is essential to take the opportunity to create new technologies.The universities in South Africa attract a lot of high quality PhD students from all over Africa who have become leaders in artificial intelligence research in the continent.South Africa has made a significant contribution to artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognition compared to other African countries. Although a lot of top quality universities in Africa are in South Africa, the governments in the continent should provide more funding support to attract talented students and researchers so in the future the region can do more important things.This kind of environment might not be immediately projected to contribute to African GDP or profile, but for long term consideration it will be very important.If African countries are going to compete with developed world advancing in artificial intelligence, there was a greater need for investment. Compared to some other regions, I don’t think Africa has enough in the way of tax incentives to encourage research and development to allow business to make the suitable investments they need to get ahead.The way to stay ahead of the machines for African countries and to stay competitive is to have a highly educated workforce that’s highly adaptable and can keep ahead of automation. I think artificial intelligence is something Africa really need to be on top of and I think the governments have a role in that. They need to be engaging with business, talking to academia and acting as a facilitator between the various sectors to make sure they’re having the right conversations otherwise the continent will be left behind in fourth industrial revolution.

Contador Harrison