General News of Sunday, 14 April 2019
Internet technology giant Google has officially opened its Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Centre in Ghana with high hopes of finding solutions to Africa’s problems.
Artificial intelligence is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. It helps find solutions to real-world problems. It can help people focus on what is relevant and open up new ways to solve problems in almost every imaginable field such as AI helping pathologists to spot cancer cells on slides, advising farmers on how to address problems with their crops and helping manufacturers detect equipment breakdowns.
Google is optimistic the lab in the West African country – the first in Africa – will transform lives by coming up with bespoke solutions for the continent’s problems including natural disasters.
“Africa has many challenges where the use of AI could be beneficial sometimes even more than in other places,” Head of Google AI Accra, Moustapha Cisse, told Daily Mail GH during the official opening of the centre in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Machine Learning researchers and software engineers run the AI centre to populate the system with local AI content. Google is collaborating with stakeholders such as universities and start-ups to enhance AI development on the continent.
Cisse believes it is an opportunity for local researchers and education institutions on the continent to collectively address the challenges facing the continent.
“Being here in attracting an international team of researchers and engineers allow us to raise awareness so that policy makers will understand better the importance of this technology and I hope they will invest more in AI education across Africa and also promote its application and its effective use in different areas.
“These opportunities and awareness is the first step. Now we are doing the research here and we are looking forward to collaborate with other researchers working across Africa to tackle some of these ambitious and tough challenges and hopefully make differences,” the Senegalese AI expert said.
Cisse is positive Africa stands to benefit most from Artificial Intelligence while calling on the youth to take up opportunities in the technology space.
“I strongly believe that AI has a bright future in Africa,” he said, adding, “Africa has a lot to give to AI and AI has a lot to give to Africa. We are the youngest continent on this planet. It’s also the fastest growing population and the challenges are huge and AI has a huge role to play. This type of technology will help accelerate various sciences that are relevant. I believe the future of AI is mainly here in Africa.”
“We just need to ensure that the right education and opportunities are in place. That is why Google is sponsoring a lot of these young people for their degrees and masters to help develop a new generation of AI developers,” he said.
The AI Lab in Accra has about 10 people coming from more than 12 different countries including Senegal, Uganda, USA, Israel, Nigeria, Ireland, Canada and UK. Other Google AI centres are based in Paris, Zurich, Tokyo, Beijing, Montreal, Toronto, Seattle, Cambridge/Boston, Tel Aviv/Haifa, New York and San Franciso.