Artificial Intelligence: Human Capacity Reimagined

By Adlyne Wangusi


Following successful events in San Francisco, New York and London, the AI Summit Cape Town will be launched at AfricaCom this November with two days of stimulating presentations, debate and insights.  The world’s leading conference on artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is aimed at CxOs, CDOs and leading innovators keen to future-proof their businesses and understand the opportunities this game-changing technology has for revenue generation and importantly, socio-economic inclusion.

AI is already apparent in most industries – retail, oil& gas, finance, health, IT, energy, telecommunications, as well as transport, travel & tourism and media– and has the potential to reach more and do more. Consequently, Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director of KNect365, and the organiser of AfricaCom, is confident that the AI Summit in Cape Town will be as informative and well subscribed as its international counterparts.

He says: “AI is changing how we work and how we think.  It is both an opportunity and a challenge.  While AfricaCom 2017 touched on the subject, it has grown at such a pace that we wanted to devote an entire track to it to encourage its exploration as a tool for advancement, hence the launch of the AI Summit Cape Town. With an international line-up of expert speakers and the importance of the conversations around artificial intelligence and machine learning, we expect a significant gathering of minds.”

One of the more contentious issues around AI and ML, must be the concern over jobs.  Is it really going to take away employment opportunities from humans, or will AI open the door to new possibilities?

The mining sector in South Africa for example, is a major employer of labour so, how will use AI to build an autonomous workforce affect the sector?  These questions and more will be put to the test with experts such as Dhanaraj Thakur (The Web Foundation), Chetan Trivedi (Hindustan Zinc Ltd), and Matthew French (Future Advocacy).

Retail also gets a chance to discover how AI can benefit it – whether trading as an eCommerce or bricks and mortar business.  Berdine Viljoen, CIO of the JD Group one of South Africa’s largest mass-consumer value lifestyle and finance corporations, will open the doors to how retailers can harness the power of AI, while Tomisin Fashina, CIO of Ecobank Group, shares how Africa has used the technology to change the banking landscape.

The AI Summit Cape Town is a rich source of practical technical insights and sessions geared to enhancing how we work and play, and while it is focused on business applications, it also has the power to digitise Africa’s communities.

From upskilling labour, to saving lives and even growing our human sustenance – think data assimilating drones that show the farmer where to plant the seeds using his/her machines and then harvest when ready or using machines and Big Data in real time to monitor global fishing patterns to highlight overfishing – AI is re-formatting how we function.  Experts such as Benji Meltzer, CTO at Aerobatics and Manu Kumar, CDO of BUPA will share their expertise and insights into how AI can benefit the planet, people and even profit.

Cuthell sums it up: “As exciting as the possibilities are for AI, it would be remiss of us as conference organisers not to be mindful of the risks unfettered deployment of this technology can bring.  The AI Summit Cape Town will be thought to provoke, but it will also be an important centre for responsible learning and determining Africa’s way forward – one that has a reasoned future”.

Other notable speakers at AI Summit Cape Town include: Richard Benjamins (Group Director BI & BD, Telefónica); Willem Fick (CIO, EPPF); Jacques Ludick (Founder, MIIA); Kamal Battacharya (Chief Information Officer, Safaricom); Francis Mumbi (innovation Lead, Stanbic); and Moloti Nakampe (Executive Director, ABI).