Artificial Intelligence at the centre of MIIA partner activities with Silicon Cape, Rise Africa, and Insights2Impact



We live in truly exciting times where smart technology is not only substantially altering the way we work, play, live, and interact with one another, but is also disrupting all industries, disciplines, economies, education, society, the public sector, and entire systems at an exponential rate. The World Economic Forum refers to this new era as the Fourth Industrial Revolution and in Germany the term “Industrie 4.0” has been coined a few years ago. I like to refer to it as the Smart Technology era, which builds on the digital revolution and is characterized by a range of technologies such as machine or artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, biotechnology, nanotechnology, neurotechnology, materials science, 3-D printing, energy storage, and quantum computing that are fusing the biological, physical, and digital worlds. It also involves the Internet of Things (IoT), the Internet of Everything, the Industrial Internet (as coined by General Electric), Cognitive Computing and Cognitive IoT (as coined by IBM), Cloud Computing, and Blockchain technologies. We already see Artificial Intelligence all around us: not only in search, advertising, speech and image recognition, and processing of photos, maps, street views, translation and video, but also the discovery of new drugs, cultural predictions, self-driving cars, drones, intelligent virtual assistants and software that invest.

Machine or Artificial Intelligence, as one of the key exponential technologies in the Smart Technology era, has also been at the center of the Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) that has been established to build a strong and innovative community and accelerator for Machine Intelligence and Data Science research and applications to help transform Africa. Since my previous posts (Awesome MII Meetup in Cape Town and Gaining momentum with Machine Intelligence and Data Science in Africa), MIIA has been on a significant growth curve with already 200+ members and participation in further activities with its partners such as Silicon Cape, Rise Africa and Cenfri’s Insights2Impact. In this post I highlight some of these activities and also share some links to the presentations that I have given at recent partner events featuring Artificial Intelligence and its applications. I also share some links to video material and other related resources.


MIIA and Silicon Cape TechTalk on Artificial Intelligence


MIIA has partnered with Silicon Cape, who is a community of technology entrepreneurs, developers, creatives, angel investors, and VCs who are passionate about entrepreneurship and the roles we play in the future of South Africa. The Silicon Cape Initiative is a non-profit, community owned and driven movement, that aims to improve the environment in the Western Cape to create more and better startups as well as increase access to capital. At the end of last month (July 2016), MIIA community members participated in Silicon Cape’s TechTalk on Artificial Intelligence as one of MIIA’s Meetup events. At this event MIIA was also represented on a panel discussion on how Artificial Intelligence is being used commercially, and how to use Machine or Artificial Intelligence to build new businesses. The panel discussion was preceded by a presentation that I have given to briefly discuss the Smart Technology era and some of its implications for Africa, a smart technology empowered education-entrepreneurship ecosystem to help transform Africa, a proposed Smart Technology center of excellence, Artificial Intelligence as a key technology in the Smart Technology era and an introduction to MIIA to the Silicon Cape community. For more details, see the presentation as well as the video of the event published on YouTube.

YouTube video of Silicon Cape & MIIA TechTalk on Artificial Intelligence:

Photos of the event:

Presentation Outline:

  • Shaping our Future in the Smart Technology Era
    • Artificial Intelligence – key technology in the 4th Industrial Revolution
    • Smart technology empowered education-entrepreneurship ecosystem to transform Africa
    • Smart Technology CoE (Center of Excellence)
    • MIIA & Smart Technology CoE
  • Introduction to Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA)
  • Appendix
    • 4th Industrial Revolution
    • Machine Intelligence Landscape


MIIA and Rise Africa on Artificial Intelligence in Finance


MIIA has also partnered with Barclays’ Rise Africa, a community of bright thinkers and doers, from rising startups to industry leaders, working together to create the future of financial services. Through its global network of connected sites in seven of the world’s top FinTech ecosystems, Rise delivers numerous programmes that facilitate rapid engagement between Barclays and the Rise community in order to solve some of the biggest challenges facing financial services. The focus of a recent Rise community event (August 2016) at their Woodstock Exchange facilities in Cape Town was Artificial Intelligence, robo-advisors for wealth management, investment and insurance, big data and machine learning in finance as well as Blockchain technology. The audience included senior executives in wealth management and investment that were keen to orientate themselves with respect to the relevant global trends and cutting edge fintech and innovation. Along with my presentation representing MIIA (as well as AI startups Cortex Logic and Bennit AI specializing in cognitive applications such as intelligent virtual assistants), there were also presentations from Pivotal Analytics, Clevva as well as a Blockchain specialist.  The outline of my presentation on Artificial Intelligence, Robo-advisors for Wealth Management and Investment, and Big Data, Analytics and Machine Learning in Finance was as follows (see link for details):

  • Artificial Intelligence – key technology in 4th Industrial Revolution
  • Robo-advisors for Wealth Management and Investment
  • Big Data, Analytics and Machine Learning for Finance
  • Introduction to Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) and Smart Technology Center of Excellence
  • Appendix
    • 4th industrial revolution
    • Machine Intelligence and its applications


MIIA and Cenfri’s Insights2Impact on applying Artificial Intelligence for financial inclusion


Given the synergies that exist between MIIA and Cenfri’s Insights2Impact (i2i) on the application of machine intelligence and data science for financial inclusion in the developing world, the two organizations has partnered to support i2i’s goal towards catalyzing the provision and use of data by private and public sector actors to improve financial inclusion through evidence-based, data-driven policies and client-centric product design. Cenfri (The Centre for Financial Regulation & Inclusion) is an independent think tank based in Cape Town that aims to support financial inclusion and financial sector development through facilitating better regulation and market provision of financial services.

In one of our first collaborative initiatives, i2i (in collaboration with partners such as MIIA and Barclays Rise, as well as open data initiatives in Africa and university data science departments) aims to establish an Innovation Hub Competition for data scientists with a financial inclusion-related challenge and some datasets (e.g., i2i data, demand-side surveys, geospatial data, financial diaries, and any other data sources such as (e.g. via in-country open data initiatives)). One of the sub-goals is also to link data scientists with organizations and companies in the financial sector. More details will be provided on the i2i and MIIA websites.

Anyone interested to join MIIA and/or participate in using smart technologies to help address African problems such as those in education, finance, healthcare, energy, agriculture and unemployment is welcome to do this here. See How to participate for more details on various ways to help MIIA execute its mission.

View the current MIIA Community on the MIIA website as well as MIIA communications on Slack, the LinkedIn group, Meetup, Google+FaceBook, and Twitter.  

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