The future of AI

As a company that often researches technology usage and uptake, we also pride ourselves in using the best methods and technologies available in our industry to ensure we remain at the forefront of UX Research. Having completed two studies that garnered much attention i.e. “AI In Africa” and reviewing findings of African Youth with the support of AI. We’ve continued to focus on the issues that AI presents when working on data and cultures/ languages that it does not seem to be fluent in (because of its programming /biases that were inputted when the AI was trained). 

Over the past few months we’ve tested well over 50 different AI tools across functions, including tools used for the creation of images, to draft reports & presentations, conduct analysis – specifically qualitative, ideation, marketing, advertising, resource design, desk research and even project management to name a few.

What has become increasingly apparent is that:

  • The tools often emphasize irrelevant information, 
  • There are a lot of western biases which, as an agency based in Africa, we noticed straight away, 
  • The AI tools lack non-linear processing when going through data and are hit and miss when it comes to their results.

What they all seem to be lacking is an authentic human experience and a knowledge of culture and people, which is at the very core of our research across the continent. 

Since coming across these findings we’ve reached out to a specific AI company to offer support and share our experience. Our hope is to be able to utilize an AI tool that can be used as a collaborative assistant in our UX Research by helping us with identifying themes and finding deeper understanding of the information. 

There’s no doubt that AI is going to be the main focus for industries that utilize technology, but the shortfalls currently experienced and predicted for AI in Africa make it a less attractive and reliable option.

At The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2024 (WEFAM24) in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 125 countries were represented by leaders in government, civil society, organizations’, academics and business to discuss key issues and initiatives. “Advancements in artificial intelligence and its governance” was one of the topics and some of the issues that were discussed were very similar to our own research findings.

There was an interesting quote from Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. She stated “As a digital technology industry, the biggest lesson learned perhaps for us is that we have to take the unintended consequences of any new technology along with all the benefits.” 

Along with the concerns western countries raised, we saw some mentions of similar concerns we have around AI on the continent when Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda, and others argued for the need to “democratize access” for growth and improvements in AI. She also said “At the end of the day, if it’s not affordable, if it’s not accessible, then the digital divide will only be exacerbated.”

The following initiatives were listed concerning AI:

·      The AI Governance Alliance announced a new global effort to increase AI access by improving data quality and availability across nations, boosting access to computational resources, and adapting foundation models to suit local needs and challenges, releasing three papers on tackling AI governance challenges and shaping responsible and inclusive practices.

·      Four new centers joined the network for the Centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with a center in Germany to focus on public sector digital transformation, a center in Vietnam to focus on green growth, and a center in Qatar to focus on sustainable development and economic competitiveness. The Forum also signed a letter of intent with Ukraine to launch a center with a focus on digital transformation of government and digital literacy.

·      The EDISON Alliance announced it has improved the lives of 784 million people through 320 initiatives across 127 countries on affordable and accessible digital solutions in education, financial services and healthcare, reaching 78% towards its 2025 target of improving 1 billion lives.

·      The new Digital Healthcare Transformation Initiative will accelerate public-private collaboration around digital health, data and artificial intelligence.

·      The Schwab Foundation’s Global Alliance launched its Artificial Intelligence for Social Innovation initiative to allow faster and more responsible adoption of AI for impact, especially in the Global South.

·      Supported by nearly 140 partners, the Global Collaboration Village demonstrated the potential of next-generation technology to drive sustainable change and shape a hopeful future.

·      The Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2024 report was launched, highlighting key solutions to tackle cyber inequity and the profound impact of emerging technologies.

·      A new report on innovations in quantum computing showed how to mitigate new, complex risks posed by emerging technologies.

·      The Alliance for Urban Innovation announced the opening of applications for its first cohort of pioneer cities, which will work with Forum partners and world-leading innovators to advance more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable communities.

·      The Forum’s Global Community of Chief Operating, Supply Chain and Procurement Officers committed to a new effort to support SMEs accelerate with the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies to realize global goals for growth, sustainability and resiliency.

·      UpLink, the Forum’s open innovation platform, announced that it has raised CHF 37 million ($43 million) in funding until 2027 to help early-stage impact entrepreneurs scale their people and planet-focused ventures.

All of these are excellent steps in the right direction, yet only one of them focuses specifically on the global south and none of them lean into the factors that make AI unreliable, less representative and inclusive of Africa and Africans on the continent. With the growing use and reliance on AI by industries across the globe there is a necessity to improve the data AI platforms are built on to make it the solution we can all trust. We hope to assist in finding a viable and universal solution to this.