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VENTURES AFRICA – IBM’s artificial intelligence computer, Watson, will be deployed to African countries in a project tagged ‘Project Lucy’, which will span a period of 10 years and cost the tech giant $100 million.
Watson, a supercomputer designed to converse intelligently can answer questions asked in human language and employs its pre-programmed data to analyse and process information of 500 gigabytes in a second.
With the computer’s super-intelligent capabilities, IBM believes that its presence in Africa will engineer a change in every sector of the economy and will improve development of these sectors.
“With the ability to learn from emerging patterns and discover new correlations, Watson’s cognitive capabilities hold enormous potential in Africa – helping it to achieve in the next two decades what today’s developed markets have achieved over two centuries,” Kamal Bhattacharya, Director, IBM Research Africa said.
The IBM Africa Research Laboratory located in Kenya, Nairobi is charged with the responsibility of deploying Watson across the Africa.
“I see a great opportunity for innovative research partnerships between companies like IBM and African organisations, bringing together the world’s most advanced technologies with local expertise and knowledge,” Professor Rahamon Bello, vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos said
In commitment to the project, IBM has decided to establish Centre of Excellence for Data-Driven Development (CEDD), which will focus on the healthcare and educational sectors for now.
The reason for the establishment of the Centre is to enable IBM to continue to research and improve on the cognitive abilities of Watson.
This is to enable their clients have access to more organized data and also pinpoint areas of socio-economic conditions that might have been previously overlooked
In a continent where data collection and processing is a major issue in the setting and implementation of certain policies and provision of proper and adequate infrastructure, Watson will help probe into Africa’s problems and enable government agencies, entrepreneurs and other professionals plan and forecast accurately.
[Caption: Attendees gather at an IBM Watson event in lower Manhattan, New York January 9, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID]