The continent needs its own experts to harness artificial intelligence (AI) towards our local challenges and priorities in Africa.  Behind buzzwords such as “data science” or “fourth industrial revolution” that we are being bombarded with, is the promise of major disruption to every aspect of our lives, powered by the engine of AI. The technology underlying AI is the field of machine learning, which lies at the intersection of computer science and statistics and is concerned with the question of how computers can learn to improve their own performance over time, by being exposed to an increasing amount of data. This stands in stark contrast to former generations of software, which relied on humans to programme every fine detail of how they should operate, by hand. Breakthroughs in this field in recent years have led to a plethora of exciting applications, including real-time translation between languages, automatic captioning and tagging of images, diagnosing cancers from medical t...

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