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Unlocking the Potential of AI in Africa: Perspectives on Interaction and Integration

Posted on

September 27th, 2023

“Some things these AI tools are able to solve are still considered witchcraft”- Helen Okereke (Robotics Engineer).

As the world hurtles towards an era dominated by technology and innovation, the pervasive influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an undeniable reality. But what does this transformative force mean for Africa, a continent deeply rooted in diverse cultures, traditions, and aspirations? In a candid conversation, experts Osama and Helen shed light on their experiences with AI, its implications for the workforce, its potential to preserve cultural heritage, and the infrastructure required to usher Africa into an AI-powered future.

AI in Daily Interaction

When it comes to interacting with AI, Osama shares that AI has gradually woven itself into the fabric of modern life. Yet, the extent of AI's presence varies. While AI might not have saturated all aspects of daily life yet, he predicts that the days of complete integration are on the horizon. He doesn’t use AI in production/generation, but he uses AI tools to facilitate his work, though its use is often guided by workplace policies. Helen reinforces this notion, acknowledging AI's supportive role in their work lives.

AI's Role in the Workforce

Addressing concerns about job displacement, both experts concur that AI is designed to assist rather than replace humans. Osama highlights that AI tends to replace manual tasks or tasks requiring support. While it might revolutionise industries, particularly those away from tech, complete replacement remains a distant possibility. Helen echoes this sentiment, stressing that humans continue to hold the reins, instructing AI on tasks and decisions.

To listen to the full conversation, tune in here on Spotify.

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Preserving Cultural Heritage through AI

The conversation pivots towards harnessing AI for cultural preservation. Osama proposes the implementation of laws that will safeguard cultural heritage in an AI-driven future. Delving into the nuances, Helen underscores the challenge of reconciling AI advancements with cultural beliefs. While AI can bridge language gaps and tackle certain issues, it can also run afoul of cultural sensitivities. To this end, both experts emphasize the importance of enlightening mindsets and educating people to embrace the potential benefits of AI without compromising cultural identity. Osama suggests that we need top tech companies example Silicon Savannah in Kenya {Tag them on LinkedIn}, Sheba Valley in Ethiopia {Tag them on LinkedIn}, Yabacon Valley in Nigeria {Tag them on LinkedIn}, and other tech companies in Africa to start working together to shape a new future in Africa.

Infrastructure for an AI-Driven Future

Both experts underscore the pivotal role of infrastructure in propelling Africa into an AI-driven era. Helen laments Africa's lag in automated technology. She points out the urgent need for infrastructure that supports automated processes, a sentiment echoed by Osama. He stresses that good infrastructure encompasses factors like electricity, quality fiber cables, data centers, and financial stability.

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“You can’t tell someone to use a robot when he doesn’t have electricity in his home. You can’t think of making a huge project for AI and you don’t have a data centre”. Without these foundations, the implementation of AI initiatives could remain a distant dream.

In the intricate interplay between AI and Africa, the conversation highlights the challenges we face. As Africa navigates this uncharted territory, embracing AI's promise while safeguarding its unique identity will undoubtedly shape the continent's trajectory towards a more inclusive and technologically advanced future. Join us here on Spotify to listen to this episode and other episodes for this season.

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