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Why Africa has a different take on AI

Why Africa has a different take on AI

While Africa is generally behind in terms of volume and scale of use in Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications, research and development, the continent is specifically concerned with available AI-related skills and education, and less with the perceived impact of this technology on jobs.

This is according to organisers behind the AI ExpoAfrica, scheduled to run from 9 – 11 September at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town.

The event is focused on AI applications and the impact these have on businesses, with the underlying theme being the opportunity for service providers, suppliers and end users to leverage AI becoming mainstream.

With six themes and three tracks, the event is focused on real enterprise AI case studies and the application of AI in Business, AI deployment challenges, ethics and skills plus the business innovation driving current deployment trends across all industry sectors.

Organisers have acknowledged the global debate over AI. They say there are positive developments for commerce and benefits to healthcare, safety and security industries, for example. However, there are challenges surrounding the ethics of AI, to what extent should AI be allowed to make purely autonomous decisions and what potential level of control could the technology ultimately have.

Those behind the AI ExpoAfrica say Africa is less sceptical about the value of the technology.

"For sure, there are concerns around ethics, autonomy, control and should (could) AI applications develop conscious thinking, empathy and emotions as we see in films and books. As with any mega trend and shift in technology, as there was in the past, perceptions and reality will change over time and as one set of jobs get replaced, it will free people to focus on other value add activities both in work and in the home. Repetitive tasks that cost you money and time, will be conducted by smart applications that can work 24/7, never get sick, never take breaks and don't complain. This in turn allows you more time to focus on your business and other value add tasks such as engaging with clients, focusing on quality, customer support or strategy," according to a statement by AI ExpoAfrica.

South Africa has been selected as the choice of venue because of its established and growing AI community.

The organisers say while there are numerous technically focused and academic events for AI, there is no business focused event that has as its target market AI-centric business leaders, decision makers, start-ups, investors, platform providers and service providers at once.

Companies at the forefront of research, investment and implementation in AI across Africa are expected to attend including SAP Africa, TransUnion Africa, Data Prophet, LARC AI, Siatik, MIIA (Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa), Clevva, Knife Capital, Startupbootcamp Africa, Cortex Logic, Sw7, Silicon Cape, Mint and Amani Business, among others.

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