Benjamin Rosman from University of the Witwatersrand on AI and development

November 25, 2019
Benjamin Rosman, University of the Witwatersrand / CSIR at the workshop “Toward a Network of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence for Development (AI4D) in sub-Saharan Africa”, Nairobi, Kenya, April 2019

What are you working on at the moment?

I am Benjamin Rosman. I work at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, Johannesburg. And I also work at the CSIR, which is the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa. And then with another head, I am also one of the founders and organizers of the Deep Learning Indaba.

In my research lab, which is based mainly at the University of the Witwatersrand, we focus mainly on questions around machine learning and decision theory, so we work in predominately in reinforcement learning in deep learning and areas around that and we recently started working in applied areas as well.

How do you perceive development and Artificial Intelligence?

I think that the combination of AI and development is an interesting one. I think AI provides an opportunity to solve a lot of problems in the developing world, as it is currently around the world in general.

I think there is a lot of opportunities for students and society more generally to get involved in acquiring these tools, which can be used in a wide variety of industries and application areas. if we think about this right, there is an opportunity to make a large impact and train a lot of people in very impactful areas.

What is your blue sky project in Africa?

What I would really love to see and there are so many research topics that I would love to work on, but what I would really love to see is a pipeline from fundamental research in Africa to applied research, considering aspects of ethics and society and finally with the pipeline running through all the way through to commercialization, so that we can be training academics, we can be, educating society in general, we can be starting start-ups and improving the way that large corporates and governments work across the continent.