In Ethiopia, it is customary to confuse technology as a by-product of development. Unfortunately, it is not only the average Joe or Jane who holds this erroneous belief, but most government officials and policymakers along with administrators in the public universities. Yet, technology is a tool for development.
As climate change intensifies across the world, impoverished nations in Africa are taking the brunt of the impact. The reality is that they are among the most ill-equipped countries in mitigating its effects. The economy of many African nations, like the majority of Third World countries, relies heavily on climate-dependent activities such as farming and tourism. This reflects the historical inequity between developed and developing countries, which magnifies the impact of climate change on the latter.
When one is travelling to Paris for business, in one of the high tourist months, there isn’t much to write about the wonderful city. In a foolish attempt to cover all the attractions, you will run like a crazy dog yet unfortunately Paris is not just big, Paris is just like ‘Quanta Firfir’ hiding countless good stuff behind her common veil. Eventually, the business traveller will give up settling on the common sites. I was the very same business traveller who gave up after The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles and Le Marias.
It’s like your first love relationship. There are some aspects you want to forget and some to cherish. This is almost universal for those who are lucky and blessed with a much better second, third, fourth love or for those who are not capable of letting their first one go.
One can easily argue humanity’s primary mission on earth is to learn, discover what is hidden, and make life a little bit easier than it was before. Moreover, sharing of what
one has learned has been at the heart of this learning endeavor.
The advent of electronic computer and the Internet has helped in both the discovery and sharing efforts significantly. It has also changed the way people acquire, analyze and disseminate information. Starting from the use of search-engines to fully automated class rooms experiences and even artificial intelligence tutors; the teaching learning world has changed considerably.
“Poverty can put you in a difficult state of mind, and a difficult state of mind can make it more difficult to escape poverty”. Jamele Rigolini.
1) The weak link in Economics
The science of Economics had always been a mystery for the layman, but the strange thing is Economics has never been an unambiguous discipline even for those who trained to be professional Economists. To make matters more complicated, regardless of our insight into economics, we still live by it!
I’ve been living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the past three months, during which time I’ve been able to spend a lot of time at iCog-Labs’ office and observe what type of work they are doing. Yesterday I visited iCog-Labs’ first Anyone-Can-Code (ACC) lesson, where iCog staff began to teach simple coding to selected High School girls.
The rapid technological progress of our time is obvious to anyone with an observing eye. The changes that happened in the past few years were not even dreamt a few decades back. If we get the chance to bring back a person who died fifty years ago, he wouldn’t know what to do with a lot of the changes and honestly our dead friend would have been bewildered beyond words. I have been blessed to see the changes firsthand since many of the vagaries occur in my generation, and I have seen instruments get more portable and more efficient through time.
Nowadays the changing technology have given me devices for education and entertainment that weren’t even ideas a century, and diseases that would have been a death sentence a few decades back could now be diagnosed rapidly and have a straightforward treatments. This influx of technology has led to economic growth – and everywhere in the world, everyday people workout how to do things a little bit better and a little bit easier.
My one-month trip in Nigeria, on behalf of iCog Labs, was full of drama. Yet, here, I am allowed to write only the ‘not too exciting’ part of it and unfortunately, this does not include ‘the horse, the girl, and I’ incident on Elegushi beach.
iCog Labs was invited to attend the Disruptive Africa Expo and I arrived in Lagos Muruthalah Mohammed International Airport midst a very hot and sunny day. August 21 is usually a rainy day in Nigeria; it is the rainy season there. However, on that particular day, the sun was out with all her kinship.
Thinking that it would be rainy, I had packed two jackets and a sweater; my punishment for complaining about Addis Ababa’s recent climate change via a cruel jock for I had never got the chance to wear those. Nigeria is hot through and through and you will feel hot while standing in the middle of the rain wearing nothing but a t-shirt.
After passing through the usual boring boarding process, I am now standing in front of the sign that says “Welcome to Lagos”
In “Practical Artificial Intelligence Is Already Changing the World,” I promised to write a follow-on article that discussed why Kevin Kelly (@kevin2kelly), the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former IBM employee and strategic advisor to Citigroup, are optimistic about the future of artificial intelligence (AI). In that article I noted that some pundits believe that AI poses a grave threat to humanity while other pundits believe that AI systems are going to be tools that humans can use to improve conditions around them. I also wrote that it would be foolish to predict which school of thought is correct this early in the game.