Granting every wish with a brazen response, the popular AI genie Siri knows more about us than we know about ourselves based on facts in the form of web searches, photo locations, map directions or the Adele album that is on repeat because of a recent breakup. Much like humans, Siri learns with every experience through the actions of her master user (like, share, click, ignore, view, etc.) and her ability to process, predict and respond based on these experiences is the perfect illustration of artificial intelligence

AI genies can grant more important wishes than just “Siri, what is the weather like today”. AI can be used to address critical challenges in developing countries. These machines can make decisions or suggestions that would normally require cognition such as deciphering between a stomach bug and a ruptured bowel. Building these intelligent machines and collecting relevant data for implementation in developing countries would provide a systematic approach and thought-leadership around the impact of AI in developing countries. 

Given that AI systems are created and deployed in developed regions, their useability is restricted within developing regions (without massive infrastructure prerequisites with high data volume and quality guarantees) . AI solutions are not necessarily a ”one size fits all”. Unique socio-economic problems prevailing in developing countries (such as a shortage of  skills, the digital divide, and uncertainty around AI) require the implementation of customised solutions and principles in order to be effective, efficient, relevant and successful in helping developing countries.

Let’s look at the healthcare and education sectors in third-world countries. AI could assist less qualified, but trained, medical personnel to make decisions that are traditionally left to highly skilled and experienced doctors. AI can help with training medical personnel and mitigate the risk of gaps in knowledge. With the limited supply of doctors in developing countries falling short of their demand, handing mundane decision-making over to machines will allow the healthcare sector to maximise utility of their supply of doctors and specialists. The education sector in third-world countries could be immensely improved with the help of AI systems that efficiently allocate resources to various districts or AI systems that quickly identify possible learning disabilities in children that do not have access to trained medical practitioners. But until the power of AI is fully embraced to the extent required to reallocate resources that would help developing countries reach their full potential, traditional (obsolete) methods will be used to solve contemporary issues. 

Artificial intelligence unlocks the very real power that developing countries hold. When given the right opportunity (and bespoke solutions), developing countries can rely less on support from wealthier economies and find their solutions in intelligent machines. To effectively drive systemic transformation in these emerging economies, the development of new AI systems needs to focus on custom solutions with particular importance on the local circumstances, drivers and goals. This way AI genies can grant a variety of wishes – leading to impact that will be beyond anything we could imagine. 

Follow your curiosity,

The Afrobotix Team

Afrobotix™ 2021