•Some of the AI fruits include improved efficiency through automation, innovation, and lowering the cost of production.
•Concerns are being raised on the risk of private corporations collecting data illegally and controlling large amounts of sensitive data without regulation.
Following the Worldcoin saga and the subsequent Parliamentary inquiry, there has been intense focus and interest in the world-changing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its resultant implications on governance, security, and general disruption on how we live and work.
This demands that policymakers and key stakeholders from the industry in the country, as a matter of urgency start deliberating on creating our own Artificial Intelligence systems.
It also points out the need to seal policy loopholes and have robust regulatory frameworks that companies such as Tools for Humanity that is behind Worldcoin and other emergent tech corporations have been using to exploit local tech talent while at the same time ensuring that Kenya is able to harness the immense potential for development that these technologies bring.
It is noteworthy that countries within the European Union, the United States of America and China among others, have come up with laws and regulations to control the use of AI in those countries.
The regulations take cognizance of the advantages of AI in technological advancement but also consider the security implications on the countries’ national security.
AI has been touted as revolutionary and it's becoming more refined and advanced as more research is conducted.
The ‘grandfather of AI’, Godfrey Hinton in an interview by CBS, compared AI to the invention of the wheel, inferring to evolution that is expected from the technology.
Some of the AI fruits include improved efficiency through automation, innovation, and lowering the cost of production.
However, concerns are being raised about the risk of private corporations collecting data illegally and controlling large amounts of sensitive data without regulation policies in place to guide their operations.
The recent Worldcoin fiasco in the country is a case in point. There is also increased apprehension of the risks that AI portends for the job market, particularly loss of livelihoods in the future.
Resultantly, Kenya needs to raise its emergent tech readiness to locally harness its potential, attract foreign investments and increase collaborations with international tech companies that ensure a transfer of skills and technology.
Present tech efforts in the country are mostly individualised, amorphous and largely dependent on foreign firms already established here.
Interestingly, the tech industry is largely dominated by young people who for various reasons do not work closely with the government.
This may be largely due to the fact that the government is viewed as a regulator and not an enabler.
It may be time for the government to seek ways that it would tap into the different tech communities that these youth are in to keep abreast of the discourse while also funding and promoting research in Artificial intelligence.
Therefore, there is a need to bridge the gap between the youth and policymakers through government-sponsored AI forums in institutions of higher learning to develop a skilled and informed workforce.
The government may also consider supporting technology education in public schools by establishing relevant and machine-readable data for training, research and development of AI systems that are tailored to the country’s national interests.
Additionally, the implementation of a modern teacher training system where some of our best minds are absorbed to become teachers would be a force multiplier in itself.
We may be alive to the revolution in the AI landscape but without deliberate action from all key stakeholders, the AI revolution may pass just like the industrial revolution with Kenya and Africa, in general, remaining guinea pigs for data harvesting and testing.
Leveraging on Kenya’s improved internet connectivity and penetration, a youthful population, the most stable democracy in East Africa, and mobile money innovation makes Kenya an attractive investment destination for multinationals.
The government should therefore seal policy loopholes and use this negotiation power to invite such corporations in AI to invest in the country for mutual benefit.