Isaac Rutenberg, Strathmore University on development of AI in Africa

October 11, 2019
Isaac Rutenberg, Strathmore University 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?

My name is Issac Rutenberg, I am the director of the centre for intellectual property and information technology law, CIPIT, at the Strathmore law school, here in Nairobi, Kenya. We are working at the intersection of intellectual property and IT, particularly in the ways that people utilize both of those for various reasons, including development.

How do you perceive development and Artificial Intelligence?

I think at the moment it is quite early, there are some very nascent projects in AI on the continent, there is actually quite a lot of them. I think that the impact of those so far has been quite minimal.

I think that we are at an early stage of determining how we want to use AI. In some ways that is really good, because the rest of the world has shown us, or has allowed us to see some of the pitfalls, some of the major problems that we are going to encounter as we develop AI, we will encounter that in everyday life on a regular basis. We do already in some instances but it’s only going to grow.

What is your blue sky project in Africa?

If I could have AI solve any problems, it would be getting products to international markets. A lot of agriculture in Africa is wasted for variety of reasons, I know a lot of those are structural and AI is obviously not going to solve all of them, but somehow if we could use AI to help the distribution systems, the analysis of all of the data that is required or there is generated, that impacts how products are moved around. I think that would have a very big impact on the people in their daily lives.