Facebook And Google Partner With Pan-African College To Offer Masters In Artificial Intelligence

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

 

U.S. tech giants Facebook and Google have partnered with The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to offer a master’s degree in artificial intelligence.

The one-year African master’s in machine intelligence (AMMI), another term for artificial intelligence, will be available at the AIMS-Rwanda campus in Kigali from September, according to ITNewsAfrica.

The Cape Town-headquartered institute has six centres of excellence across Africa, including South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

For the moment, the artificial intelligence course will only be available in Rwanda, as a result of the institute’s partnership with Google and Facebook.

The social media and search engine companies are getting involved as they aim to nurture a globally connected community of machine intelligence practitioners in Africa that will assist in reducing the technology gap, boosting the continent’s economies and enabling better governance, according to ITWebAfrica.

The presence of the two tech giants will give students access to state-of-the-art training in machine learning and its applications, with all courses lectured by leading experts from prestigious African and international institutions.

artificial intelligence
Google’s self-driving Lexus drives along during a demonstration of artificial intelligence. Photo – AP – Tony Avelar

Dr. Mouhamadou Moustapha Cissé, the founder and director of the new program and professor of machine learning at the educational institute explained the importance of the field of study and its applications in Africa.

“Machine intelligence (MI) is revolutionizing critical aspects of our lives. It enhances medical diagnosis, improves industrial processes and enables scientific discoveries. Over the past decade, thanks to large public and private investments, MI has progressed rapidly in both basic research and the development of a vast array of applications,” said Cissé, according to the AUFoundation.

Cisse went on to explain that the talent pool currently advancing machine intelligence is modest and unrepresentative of the diversity in the world, and because the challenges people within the discipline choose to work on are strongly influenced by their backgrounds and our environment, Africa could be left behind and the continent’s problems ignored by machine intelligence specialists.

This is why the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences degree is so important, as it will ensure that a new generation of young scientists will be trained to bring a fresh perspective to machine intelligence research and contribute to advancing its development across Africa.

Google investing in Africa’s artificial intelligence development

In June Google announced that it will establish an artificial intelligence research center in the Ghanaian capital later this year — a first for the company on the continent, according to Quartz.

Expert machine learning researchers and engineers will work together at the new AI research center in Accra which will be dedicated to artificial intelligence research and its applications in a wider African context.

The research center will focus on using artificial intelligence applications in areas that include healthcare, agriculture and education.

Google has been focused on deriving value from AI for some time, and their investment in researching the technology and making it available as a field of study for young Africans is evidence of how important they believe it to be.

Google spent $30 billion on artificial intelligence research in 2016, according to Forbes.

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