Conference Discusses Challenges and Opportunities of AI


delegates pose for a photo with the robot which welcomed them to the conference at Unesco 

PARIS, The Mobile Learning Week conference co-hosted by UNESCO and ITU under the theme Artificial Intelligence for Sustainability; Principles for AI(Artificial Intelligence) Towards a Humanistic Approach, yesterday, roared into life here where co-existence of humans and machines took centre stage.

Rapid technological advancements in artificial intelligence have been a cause of panic and relief to the world at large mainly because of the possibility of the loss of human jobs to machines. While others welcome it owing to the positive impact it will have on the socio-economic sector.

Many jobs will be lost but many will be created,” UNESCO director General Audrey Azoulay said during her opening speech. She went on to say there was a need to prepare humans to live in a world with AI because its transformative power cuts across social and economic sectors as well as the education sector. 

There was a general consensus among delegates who came from both public and private sectors across the world that AI will transform human lives in a way never seen before. Delegates were informed that some functions and the transactional process would be automated rendering some jobs and skills obsolete.

Bottom line is that while AI will lead to increased efficiency and productivity, it also poses new threats such as job losses as demand for new skill sets currently not held like programming, coding and machine learning will be needed,” ITU Senior Human Capacity Building Officer Mike Nxele said.He went on to say that Issues of Ethics in AI will come into play to regulate the use of machines.Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent Seng Yee Lau concurred with Nxele. He said:''China is in the process of coming up with laws to regulate the use of AI. Laws have been created since the time of Aristotle to regulate humans but now we are creating laws that will regulate machines so that they do not harm humans.”Research Manager for IBM Africa, Tapiwa Chiwewe intervened by demystifying AI which he defined as the new IT saying the former involved generating new information while the latter focussed on storing information.He said there was enthusiasm in taking courses in coding and machine learning citing an example of Stanford University where about 1040 students have since enrolled for machine learning this year alone.
Watch the video below for excerpts of an interview with Chiwewe on the sidelines of the conference.


Organisation Of Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria, weighed in and revealed that AI startups attracted 12% of private sector investments in 2018 worldwide.There is need to ensure responsibility on AI because there are questions of the trustworthiness of AI processes, how it affects human rights, privacy, discrimination, gender equity and criminal justice systems,” he said.

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