Do what You can when you can. Don’t be stopped by your Age or current circumstances. There’s a lot you can do or have to do to bless humanity i.e the gifts/talents instilled in you. Start now. Keep Pushing. Your Dreams are Achievable. It’s Possible. Today on Exclusives with SammytheAuthor, an Inspiring Ghanaian Serial Entrepreneur and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Expert, shares with us, his life story and career as an Entrepreneur and Co – founder of Okuafo Foundation. Checkout the Interview Below.
1: Tell us a bit about Yourself. (Family, Career etc)
I grew up in a small community in the Ashanti Region. Growing up in a minority dominated community such as mine was challenging as I could barely have access to a computer and the internet. It was hard navigating the Computer Programming scene as there were no mentors or learning resources available to me.
I have four amazing siblings who are also in love with STEM and I am really excited about that.
A lot of my work is centered around Applied Artificial Intelligence which basically means I look out for ways we can apply new and existing AI technologies to generate real world value and impact.
2: With Your Field as an AI Expert, could you please share with us the Importance of AI Technology?
Just like the past Industrial Revolutions, the 21st will be hit by a major technological shift that will impact the way we do everything. At the frontline of the technological shifts is Artificial Intelligence. Like one of my favorite AI Pioneers, Andrew Ng said, “AI is the new electricity” it is clear the impact AI will have on people and industries.
With data becoming increasingly available, increase in computing power and the advancement of fundamental research in machine learning, humans are solving problems that seemed impossible a few years ago. ‘…the machines are learning, learning really fast, don’t just sit there mate, learn how they are learning to keep up with what’s coming’ a little pun there :).
The impact of AI on jobs will be massive. And No, the robots aren’t coming for your jobs yet. Applications of AI today are mostly targeted at tasks that are considered repetitive and boring, dangerous for humans, assisting in medical diagnosis etc.
But as time goes on, the capabilities of AI is advancing rapidly, jobs in the near future will require knowledge in Artificial Intelligence to enable workers function fully as companies go through the AI transformation.
3: Why Okuafo Foundation? What’s the Idea behind it?
Okuafo Foundation is a non-profit organization in Ghana working to create the future of Agriculture for rural farmers. Leveraging digital tools and AI, we build technologies that help rural farmers overcome their biggest hurdles; pests and food storage.
4: Any Impact made so far?
Our Okuafo AI application is pioneered by 600 farmer leaders. Now powered by DeepFence, our crisis mapping tool. These farmers leaders make our tools available and accessible to about 30,000 smallholder farmers to enable them to detect pests early enough to take action to avoid further damage.
5: How can we use Digital Innovation to counter Corruption in Africa?
Most of the corruption happening in Africa is as a result of the lack of digitization of our processes. Due to this, corruption goes undetected. To counter corruption, we need to digitize our economy and activities with systems that are built with strong ethics and integrity. This way, we can easily apply Machine Learning to detect irregular patterns.
6: I understand Challenges are inevitable, what has been your greatest challenge so far? Anything Shareable?
So far, I would say my biggest challenge has been navigating the Computer programming scene from a minority dominated community and bridging the gap of access. Managed to get access to the internet through internet cafes.
7: How was the feeling like when you were honored by the UAE?
It was really emotional for me and the entire team. I felt my dreams were accomplished, I have always wanted the chance to have a “real impact” on our people and I felt the Zayed Sustainability Prize has made that possible.
8: Kindly Shed more light on the Okuafo AI App? What are some of the Benefits derived by Rural Farmers?
The Okuafo AI app allows rural farmers with no literacy background to get insights into what is happening on their farms. Farmers are able to detect pests on their farms early enough and take sustainable actions to fight the pests.
9: What has been your Greatest Fear growing up?
Growing up, my daddy had always wanted to take the conventional path to success. He wanted me to get a degree and be an Engineer. The path I am on right now is pretty unconventional and there are lots of uncertainties in Entrepreneurship. Making that decision to take the unconventional path wasn’t easy for me. But here we are, guess we are doing good and poised to solving problems that will otherwise remain unsolved.
10: A Word.of advice for anyone aspiring to be an AI Expert. What are some of the things they need to know before they get started?
“Hey buddy, just get started…”
The field of AI is very broad and advancing rapidly. Once you get started, you need to focus on a subset that is exciting to you. Keep your eyes on a problem you want to solve and investigate the tools you can use to solve that. If they don’t exist, you create them.
When you get started in AI and Machine Learning, you will be greeted by some mathematics which you probably wouldn’t be happy with. But don’t let that scare you, brush your math foundations and you are good to go.
“Don’t worry about it if you don’t understand” – Andrew Ng. Keep this in mind. Ciao!
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