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Google canvasses AI adoption in businesses, government

Search giant, Google, has called for the deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business developments and various governments’ engagements.

Google noted that AI is becoming a global weapon for development, and its earliest adoption, especially in developing economies including Nigeria, Ghana, and others would increase the active participation in the Industry 4.0, otherwise known as Fourth Industrial revolution.

According to Google, AI’s economic promise will only become reality if it is applied in a meaningful way by industry. Doing this, the USA firm, said this requires a thorough understanding of the kinds of problems that AI is good at tackling, current or inherent limitations, and the resources (tools, data, expertise, computing power) needed to implement AI solutions.

It stressed that governments can act as a useful signpost in nudging businesses to explore and invest in AI opportunities. Another important lever is government backing to facilitate training in applied AI, and dissemination of best practice and standards.

AI is the theory and development of computer systems being able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Google, which launched the first AI lab in Africa, in Accra, Ghana, yesterday, said the team is working on building AI-powered solutions to real-world problems, including helping communities in Africa and beyond to improve their lives.

Speaking at the event, Head, Google AI Centre, Accra, Ghana, Moustapha Cisse, said the firm uses Machine Learning (ML), and AI in all of its products, stressing that these two – AI and ML, are used every day by people across the world, many of who don’t even realise they’re using it.

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“Machine learning is used for everything from filtering out the spam in your email to powering the Google Assistant on your smart speaker, from taking the perfect low-light photos on the Pixel 3 to helping the world speak the same language through Google Translate,” he stated.

According to him, Google recognises that it is important for everyone to recognise that emerging technology is socially beneficial, and upholds the highest standards of scientific excellence.

He noted that based on its seven guiding principles for ethical use of AI and ML, Google is taking a thoughtful approach to help nurture an emerging technology, which is outlined in depth here.

“Google’s AI Centre was opened in Ghana because in order to build technology that benefits people everywhere, it needs to be built by people with a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints. The researchers of Google AI centre in Accra bring a fresh perspective and expertise to build new technologies in Africa that can contribute positively to life here, as well as around the globe.

“Google AI Accra forms part of the company’s structured efforts to explore and integrate more diverse experiences/learning beyond present-day centres of innovation. ‘AI by Africa, for the world’ helps us highlight the crucial role that this new centre will be playing in our vision of using AI to solve problems for everyone, in every part of the world,” he stated.

To him, a strong focus area for Google is how AI and ML can be used for social good, which is seen in how machine learning is improving people’s lives, from protecting people from spam and fraud to making devices more accessible via speech.

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Cisse noted that working with partners from such diverse fields as medicine, transportation, environmental groups and small businesses can help to evolve AI and ML tools to meet real-world challenges. “This is why Google shares its machine learning tools, so that organisations outside of Google can benefit,” he stated.

He listed Google’s AI for Social Good program to include projects such as: flood prediction; earthquake aftershocks; environmental protection; healthcare and biology, among others.

Cisse explained that floods affect up to 250 million people, causing thousands of fatalities and inflicting billions of dollars of economic damage every year. He said Google has developed a system that combines physics-based modelling with AI to produce earlier and more precise flood warnings.

In the areas of healthcare, Google developed an algorithm to predict heart attacks and strokes simply from images of the retina – no needle or blood draw required!

He said Google researchers have helped doctors detect the spread of breast cancer tumours — the doctors and machine learning system are better working together than either is alone.

Curtailing earthquake aftershocks, Cisse said: “existing predictors are a little better than chance. So we partnered with Harvard researchers to apply AI to seismic data, and created a model that while far from fully accurate, can now do a much better job than previous models of predicting where aftershocks will occur.”

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