There are many obstacles to an Artificial intelligence ( AI ) researcher from Africa making some relevance in the global community.
At a 2016 conference in Barcelona, Spain, attended by more than 5,000 people, I was one of fewer than 10 black people…
A cynic responds,
The problems of Africa (say, Nigeria) are still too basic for some of these highfalutin concepts.
Our Natural Stupidity (NS) is something we need to work on, first, before talking of Artificial Intelligence.
Listening to discussions like this makes me think of Pastors far removed from the day2day realities of average citizens, spuing commentaries about what they know nothing about, or care about.
Of what use is Artificial intelligence (AI) in a country (say Nigeria) where something as basic as regular electricity, good road, basic healthcare are defying solutions? Or elsewhere in Africa where adequate food production -despite mostly clement weather conditions – appear to be rocket science ??
Can we apply whatever INTELLIGENCE we currently possess to solve basic things (in Africa) that the rest of the world have already solved, and stop fooling ourselves with all these high-sounding concepts we are not ripe for?
And the rebuttals came pouring in swiftly.
Some people wrongly believe that the whole world will wait for them to complete their own house-cleaning so that they can catch up with strides in technology!
It simply doesn’t work this way..
Just because most Africans have settled for the pedestrian should not prevent visionaries from reaching for the stars..
There is the need to encourage those that are reaching noir courageously to what the future holds.
Ideas rule the world, and Africa cannot afford to be totally left behind in important trends like Artificial Intelligence
Yet another contributed thus,
This objection is akin to saying that mobile telephony is too advanced and highfalutin for a rural community that lacks macadamized roads.
This doesn’t take cognizance of the impact mobile telephony would play in reducing the need for roads tremendously. There is less need for travel by roads by virtue of the ubiquity of mobile telephony.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence research on products that can diagnose illnesses like diabetic retinopathy – available now through mobile – is deployed by phone owners to diagnose ailments, order drugs etc, and even have drones deliver the drugs .
These things are interlinked
The most interesting response was,
It is a mistake to think we must have some things in place before jumping on the latest technological bandwagon.
Nigeria currently receives billions of dollars annual remittances from those who work outside Nigeria strictly because of their being in sync technologically with the rest of the world .
We must convert our abundant resources – humans – into researchers who will be equipped now and in future to better tackle the pervasive ills / lack of our society. Failure to do this, we will have the gap keep widening, and the next decade would be worse than this.
Luckily, not of Africa is backward. We should leverage on our assets maximally to stand eyeball to eyeball with the rest of the world..
Truly, Nigeria couldn’t have waited to sort out the public electricity inadequacy before bringing on mobile phones, for fear of how to charge phone. Same thing applies to electric vehicles (EVs) whose adoption has not taken off because of doubts as to how to charge these vehicles.
Often, one has to leapfrog technology and circumstances to make progress Each sector has to develop in parallel, while allowing all work together. for good.
While small babies generally learn to crawl before standing, there are exceptions of those who don’t crawl before standing..