The technological evolution is conquering things which we previously considered to be strictly human. Addressing the scope of current tech space, we can say that the possibilities are endless, quite literally. AI is accomplishing tasks we never thought were feasible, such as composing music and creating videos. With the help of analytics, doctors can predict the effectiveness of cancer treatments in days; whereas earlier precious months were wasted to determine the same. In Africa, AI-powered technology will soon be employed to tackle burning social problems.
So, let’s take a look at some current tech trends that are inspiring development in Africa.
The availability of new sources of data plays a pivotal role in current tech advancements. For example, consider the financial inclusion of a nation’s population. Traditionally, financial institutes analyze financial history of an individual to determine if the person is eligible for a loan or not; which includes credit scores, IDs and other relevant documents. However, this excluded a large portion of the population who never had the chance to build a credit history due to the absence of any form of documentation. FinTech companies in East Africa have adopted a different approach-they are analyzing available mobile data about a person, like the frequency of getting a recharge, and making lending decisions on the base of this data. Thus, more people are now being able to access financial services and accomplish their goals, like educating children or starting businesses.
New features in SAS platform have the ability to analyze images. This is benefiting rangers working for wildlife conservation as previously they would have to manually sort the pictures of animals into species and sexes. Now, SAS’s new AI-driven technology can do the classification and rangers can focus on more important tasks.
Africa is seeing the emergence of new machine learning algorithms, like the extreme gradient boosting model, which are allowing data scientists to make more precise predictions. In Nigeria, this is boosting the development of models that prevent customer churn in the telecom industry. These models assess customer information, like billing data, purchase history, demographics and service usage, and create loyalty profiles that enable better marketing campaigns.
Generally, companies crunch data from structured data sources, like transactional data. However, tapping into unstructured data sources, like customer complaints, reviews and text information, can be highly advantageous for businesses. These data sources help predicting customer churn more accurately.
Deep learning falls under the category of machine learning, which is creating waves of excitement all over the world. It has the ability to model complex concepts in data through the use of high-level structures, algorithms and multiple processing steps. Deep learning teaches computers to recognize patterns through the numerous processing steps and perform tasks that are conventionally carried out by humans, such as image identification and speech recognition.
These models are improving traditional techniques used in credit risk modeling and fraud detection. SAS has collaborated with Equifax to implement deep learning models for improved risk management.
Nigeria has turned its focus on upskilling its people in data science, so that they can take advantage of this AI-era and become an outsourcing hub for deep learning projects.
An exciting application of AI and language processing is chatbots. They are programmed to enable conversations between machines and humans. This helps save a lot of time and money that was previously wasted on performing repetitive and mundane tasks, such as responding to customer queries related to their bank accounts.
Recently, United Bank of Africa launched its chatbot, named Leo, which is in fact a Facebook bot that allows bankers to carry out real-time transactions and other banking activities, like opening accounts and paying bills.
Thus, we are entering an era where machines can think and learn utilizing the power of AI. AlphaGo, a programme created by Google in 2016, has been able to defeat the best human players of this ancient Chinese game. And AlphaGo Zero, the next version, learned by playing against itself and after a period of time defeated AlphaGO.
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