Cortex Ventures & MIIA at AI For Good Summit

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 12 June 2019 – Cortex Ventures & MIIA Contributes to AI, Human Dignity & Inclusive Societies Discussion at AI For Good Summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cortex Ventures (Pty) Ltd is Africa’s first AI-only Venture Capital company and forms part of Cortex Group (Pty) Ltd – an Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused holding company, creating value in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0 IR) economy on a local, regional and global scale. The Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA), along with Cortex Group, was founded by Dr Jacques Ludik and serves the purpose of establishing and fostering key relationships within the African AI “Network of Excellence” – transforming Africa through networking, collaboration and conversation.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, CEO of Cortex Ventures and fellow Director of MIIA, attended the AI for Good Summit in May 2019 and participated in a panel discussion, organized by UNESCO, focusing on “AI, Human Dignity and Inclusive Societies – Enhancing the Quality & Diversity of the Digital Information Ecosystem”. The discussion also saw contributions from Kathleen Siminyu (WIML Nairobi), Nigel Hickson (ICANN), Frits Bussemaker (I4ADA), Francesca Rossi (IBM), as well as session leader, Bhanu Neupane (UNESCO) and was organized within the context of changing norms of knowledge generation, access and use as well as their implications for human rights, openness and inclusive access to information.

Within this discussion, Dr Nick Bradshaw emphasized the lack of understanding and knowledge about Africa’s AI Ecosystem, as well as the need to bridge the African AI narrative with the rest of the world’s narrative – creating more opportunities for not only collaboration, but idea and “good news” story exchange. With support from his team and in his capacity as CEO of Cortex Ventures and Director of MIIA, access to information about Africa’s AI Ecosystem is strengthened – launching the Artificial Intelligence Africa Wiki certainly supporting the latter. In his interview at the AI For Good Summit, fellow MIIA Director, John Kamara, also highlighted the importance of including Africa in the global Artificial Intelligence dialogue, the need for the global AI Ecosystem to understand the homegrown issues affecting Africa’s social economy before deploying AI on the continent, and the importance of access rights to information about these issues and data use cases.

Kathleen Siminiyu, Co-Founder of Nairobi Women in Machine Learning and Data Science Community emphasized a need for education on the collection and use of data. Nigel Hickson, Vice President, IGO Engagement at ICANN, highlighted the effects of social challenges and governance on the Internet, as well as UNESCO’s role in humanizing the Internet and supporting its development through Internet Governance Forums. Frits Bussemaker, Institute for Accountability in the Digital Age Chair, stressed the need for legal systems to be updated to address emerging challenges of accountability posed by AI. Francesca Rossi, IBM AI Ethics Global Leader, discussed her role in the development of the Guidelines for Trustworthy AI and underlined that AI should be lawful, ethical and robust for it to be trustworthy – further highlighting the need for global transparency. Bhanu Neupane, UNESCO, addressed challenges of openness, transparency, and human rights in the information sphere today.

Further supporting the multi-faceted discussion, a summary of UNESCO’s report “Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies”, analysing AI’s implications for freedom of expression, right to equality, right to privacy, openness, transparency, access to information and multi-stakeholder engagement was presented. While these challenges remain, there have been significant advantages of digital technologies – including how universal access to information empowers people to hold their government accountable, access educational resources online, as well as transfer and validate knowledge in a seamless manner.

The participants engaged in several rounds of questions about issues concerning disinformation, elections, freedom of expression, online content moderation, transparency and accountability. The session concluded with the following key messages: (1) Respect for human rights is central to the development of AI, (2) Openness, transparency, and explainability needs to be encouraged and institutionalized in the deployment of AI, (3) Urgent steps need to be taken to strengthen access to information to bridge the digital divide, and (4) Partnerships, at all levels, are needed to address the economic and industry-wide challenges of AI.

Press Release adapted from: UNESCO

ABOUT MIIA

 The Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) is a non-profit organization founded by Dr Jacques Ludik in 2016 – the same year in which he founded Cortex Logic. The mission of MIIA is to help establish and foster key relationships and partnerships within the Artificial Intelligence ‘Network of Excellence’ – thereby creating a strong, innovative Machine Intelligence and Data Science community and dialogue in Africa. MIIA aims to transform Africa and shape the African AI Ecosystem by bringing together and networking with the critical mass of resources, by promoting and sponsoring key learning activities, as well as through the strengthening of scientific and technological excellence, mentoring and collaboration on the continent. Through partnerships with local and global government, businesses, start-up incubators, universities, research organizations, and other non-profit organizations, MIIA helps mold the future of Machine Intelligence and Data Science research and applications in Africa.

ABOUT CORTEX GROUP

The Cortex Group (Pty) Ltd is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) focused holding company, creating value in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0 IR) economy on a local, regional and global scale. We work across multiple business and industry domains, developing cutting-edge intelligent systems and AI-driven companies / platforms, that leverage our unique mix of intellectual property, access to funding, technology, people, partners, and community. The Cortex Group currently consists of five divisions, each focusing on key parts of the Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem: Asset Management, Health, Ventures, Labs, and as well as the already successful Cortex Logic. Our Cortex Ventures  Click-2-Pitch Challenge is now open to any African-based start-up or scale-up focusing on AI and seeking seed or growth stage funding. Learn More: www.cortexgroup.ai