We live through what has been termed the Fourth technological revolution, a fast-paced socio-economic transformation is driven by rapid technological progress that’s disrupting entire industries and governance systems. UNESCO position itself rapidly to make sure that it can provide all its Member States with the required foresight to require advantage of this industrial revolution while ensuring respect for human dignity and security. Artificial intelligence ensures great promise for building inclusive knowledge societies and helping countries reach their targets under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but it poses acute ethical challenges too.
According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers 2018 survey of nearly 1,400 CEOs in 91 countries, many companies face ‘a shortage of skilled talent to wash, integrate and extract value from big data and move beyond the small steps towards AI. It’s not just a matter of hiring or developing AI specialists and data scientists. It is equally important to cultivate a workforce able to use AI-based systems. In Asia-Pacific and Africa, as many as 35% and 45% of company CEOs respectively express ‘extreme concern’ about the supply of necessary skills. The gap in skills is currently preventing companies from embracing AI. Engineering has always had an important role in development and human welfare. Ensuring that future generations of engineers and scientists are going to be ready to design solutions for local and global challenges is critical. Artificial intelligence is now evolving at breakneck speed, because of increasingly powerful supercomputers.
One might initially associate AI and machine learning with robots and fantasy. However, it is seeping into our everyday lives through, for instance, digital advertising, speech recognition tools, and innovations. The breakthrough in AI is on a speedy development path and has been further developed by innovations in other frontier technologies, including cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things, and virtual reality. As a convergence of a widening spectrum of frontier technologies, AI has garnered the potential to bring new possibilities for global development and societal change.
UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa joined hands with Huawei Technologies (Kenya) Co., LTD to coach university and college faculty members who are within the early carrier and willing to formulate and integrate AI into their teaching course as a part of their regular course from Eastern Africa Regional countries. The developing countries in Eastern Africa are going to be ready to reap the advantages of the Fourth technological revolution and overcome the talent shortage that hamstrings their national innovation systems.
Through this initiative, a replacement, out-of-the-box teaching, and training techniques that value cross-disciplinary skills and artistic thinking, to supply a technically savvy, innovative workforce have been developed in Eastern African countries. They will also adopt what they learned through this training into their teaching curriculum to bring more youth manpower in new technology.
UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa and Huawei announced their collaboration to reinforce digital skills and therefore the application of AI (AI) at the HUAWEI CONNECT Summit in Shanghai, China during 2019.