IBM to put artificial intelligence hub in Africa

IBM’s Watson uses artificial intelligence to analyse huge amounts of data and can also understand human language.
Experts said such a system could help the African economy .
The project dubbed, Lucy, after the earliest known human ancestor fossil which was found in east Africa, will cost $100m (£61m) and take 10 years to complete.
Uyi Stewart, chief scientist of IBM Research in Africa, told the BBC that the system could transform education and health in the same way as mobile banking had transformed finance on the continent.
“With the adoption of mobile phones, banking has become virtual and it could be the same premise in education and healthcare,” he said.
Its ability to crunch through vast amounts of data and its access to a wealth of information could prove helpful in a variety of contexts.
“It is also able to reason. One if its key functions is natural language processing,” said Mr Stewart.
Schools with poor or non-existent computer resources could link into the cloud-based system via smartphones or portable devices with internet connectivity.
Analytics on the state of country roads and congestion levels in cities could prove useful for logistics firms that currently have to negotiate pothole-filled roads and traffic chaos.
A delivery firm in Lagos is already using the system to improve delivery times and schedules.
IBM is working on ways to make sure that Watson is able to provide relevant bite-sized chunks of information.
Prof Rahamon Bello, vice-chancellor of the university of Lagos, is excited by the prospect of access to a supercomputer which he thinks could help Africa.
Despite the huge potential of artificial intelligence machines, IBM has made just $100m from Watson in the past three years.
It is determined to change that and recently invested $1bn in creating a business unit for the system.

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