University of Ghana Hosts Google AI Symposium

Dr. Moustapha Cissé, Research Scientist and Head, Google Research Accra

The Department of Computer Science in collaboration with Google Africa in a quest to highlight how Africa can use artificial intelligence (AI) to induce development has organised an Artificial Intelligence Symposium on the theme; “Challenging the status quo: The role of artificial Intelligence in Africa”.

Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh, Dean, School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, in a welcome address gave a brief background of artificial intelligence. According to him, the birth of artificial intelligence in the 1950’s has undergone numerous transformations. He noted that artificial intelligence has become intertwined with our everyday lives making it difficult to imagine a future without it. Prof. Kingsford-Adaboh revealed that artificial intelligence was fundamental to the 4th Industrial Revolution as the revolution would challenge ideas about what it means to be human and would be more transformative than any other revolution the world had ever experienced.

Regarding perception of Africa’s Knowledge on technology, the Dean indicated that Africa is seen as a passive player and sometimes a spectator in the discussion of technological developments. This assertion he stated was not entirely accurate and that the partnership between Google and the University of Ghana Computer Science Department demonstrates that Africa has a lot to offer the world. Prof. Kingsford-Adaboh was hopeful that Google’s establishment of a research lab in Africa and its collaboration with the University will inure to the benefit of Africans.

Prof. Robert Kingsford-Adaboh

Dr. Ernest Mwebaze, Research Scientist, Google Research Accra, speaking on the topic: “Artificial Intelligence in Africa” noted that artificial intelligence is not just limited to computer science but used in all aspect of life including academics. Dr. Mwebaze further highlighted the uses of artificial intelligence in agriculture including data collection, disease and pest control and surveillance; health and business. In using artificial intelligence, Dr. Mwebaze added that it should be socially beneficial, accountable to the people and the highest ethical standards must be applied."

Dr. Ernest Mwebaze

Speaking on the role of artificial intelligence in the lives of Africans, Ms. Diana Akrong, User Experience Researcher, Google Research Accra, emphasized that artificial intelligence was everywhere indicating that the basic mobile and computer programs make use of artificial intelligence. She stated that artificial Intelligence was concerned with solving societal issues. Ms. Akrong further stressed on the importance of need assessment in rolling out programs to be used by the public. She gave resources that designers could use to help them create efficient content for the development of society.

Ms. Diana Akrong

Earlier, Dr. Moustapha Cissé, Research Scientist and Head, Google Research Accra, indicated that as a prelude to the symposium, Google established the first African Artificial Intelligence Research Centre in Ghana with a mandate to apply its research outcomes to solve problems. He further cautioned that artificial intelligence should not be seen as a solution to all problems but rather a tool that can solve most problems.

Present at the ceremony was Prof. Daniel Asiedu, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, Prof. Sandow Mark Yidana, Head of Department, Earth Science, representatives from Google, Artificial intelligent experts and students from selected Senior High Schools and tertiary institutions in Accra.



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