JOHAN STEYN: Local AI tech can help Africans breach the digital divide
The language barrier prevents full advantage of the internet as major companies focus on the English capabilities of their products
I was on a Zoom call but I could hear the little voices laughing in the next room. My son was proudly demonstrating to his friends his mastery of our Google Home smart speaker. I could hear the gasps as the artificial intelligence (AI) voice answered questions on the weather forecast and the time of the next full moon. A friend shouted, “Let’s try isiZulu.”
“Sawubona, unjani?” I could hear the device was taking longer than normal to respond. Finally a strange sounding accent announced, “Lutho oluningi”. By now the laughter was even more pronounced. “How do you mean ‘nothing much’?” One boy asked. “Ngangisiza na? Can I help you?”..