Ho, May 13, GNA - The Ghana News Agency (GNA), a wire service, in the past worked with so much speed – providing demonstrably accurate, fair and balanced information to subscribers in real time.
The then technology tool it operated, the teleprinter machine, worked on fixed lines of the Postal and Telecommunications, now (Ghana Telecom).
Yes, such was the speed of the GNA that the National Lotteries relied on that system to transmit winning numbers on Saturdays promptly.
Now, advanced technology has given all players in the industry the same starting line and the advantage the Agency used to enjoy, has been lost.
The world is seeing rapid and amazing technological changes. I remember the emergence of mobile telephony, beginning as a ‘Wireless Local Loop’ setup, metamorphosed into a type as big as a carpenter’s plane, then to phones without cameras, fax machines with fixed line handset, phones with cameras and subsequent evolutions in technology to transmit voice, fax or data between distant parties.
As technology drives these developments, so has it driven the practice of journalism - news reportage and news transmission.
The new engine on the block, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and its branches, nanosciences and nanotechnology, are studies and applications of extremely small things and can be used across all other science fields - biology, physics, material science and engineering, dovetailing into journalism practice.
Nanorobotics or nanobots or nanoids or bots, blockchains are emerging technology fields creating machines or robots whose components are at or near the scale of a nanometer (a billionth of a metre).
Mr Darlington Ahiale Akogo, Executive Director of minoHealth AI Labs, whose team applies AI to fields like Biotechnology, Regenerative Medicine, Tissue Engineering, Optometry, Epidemiology, Nutrition and Agriculture said “AI, especially Deep Learning has the potential to solve a broad array of problems, which is why a large portion of industry, academia and governments around the world are already investing so much into it.”
He said AI is here to revolutionalise systems using data-science and cloud computing to collect, analyse and visualise data, pointing out that journalism is no exception.
Mr. Jacques Ludik, Founder/CEO of Cortex Logic and President of Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA), said “Africa needs a private-public sector multi-stakeholder approaches and national strategies to unlock the tremendous value and potential of AI and other exponential technologies to help the society to thrive in the Smart Technology Era.”
Harnessing AI as a solution tool Africa has some of the worst and biggest problems in the world. About 501 million people, 47 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), lived on $1.90 a day or less in 2012, and 233 million people in SSA were hungry and undernourished in 2014-16, according to a World Bank data. In 2015, 9.2 million deaths were recorded in Africa, majority being caused by communicable and non-communicable diseases, whilst Ghana has close to one doctor to 8,000 patient ratio, according to a GHS report of 2017 published by the Daily Graphic.
Potentially, it is believed we can benefit the most by focusing on and investing in AI and its many applications to help solve these crucial problems above.
AI has inevitably become the driving force behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), with its importance lying in the power that the technology has.
No wonder the global economic returns of this AI revolution are anticipated to be in the region of $16trillion. Additionally, AI is also expected to create 2.3 million new jobs by 2020, according to Gartner, the world’s leading IT research and digital advisory company.
Already, Canada has published its AI development strategy in March 2017, followed by China, whose quest is to become equal to other AI powerhouses by 2020, lead the world in some aspect of AI by 2025 and entirely dominate as the primary centre for AI innovation by 2030.
At least, some 23 countries including South Korea, India, Germany and Australia have joined the fray, planning strategies into the future of AI. Kenya and Tunisia are the only countries in Africa that are attempting to craft an AI national strategy.
How much of these economic returns and jobs can Africa and for that matter Ghana leverage on, when data collection and sequencing still remain a colossal problem.
No African nation is among the top ranking countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. The continent has a huge potential to catch up with the rest of world if it acted fast.
Africa must take advantage of its best and most powerful resource – human capital, to catch up. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25, a huge advantage to explore AI.
These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can interface for the good of society.
Jumpstarting ahead of the trends to stay employed AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as it can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.
It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.
Preparing for the future, stakeholders must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.
The government of Rwanda recently hoisted a satellite to beam free internet connectivity to its rural enclaves to set the stage and open up the frontier for conscious e-participation in development processes at that level, something Ghana could also explore.
Dr. Thomas Mensah, a Ghanaian-American Engineer and inventor, has taken the lead by launching Ghana’s version of Silicon Valley of technology to create business accelerators and incubators to bridge the tech gap and again facilitating the training of 300,000 SHS students in software development, a replica of what pertains in Dubai and UAE. These are right steps that would give impetus to leveraging AI for development.
In addition, we need the infrastructure and framework to galvanize existing African AI talents into planning towards deploying the technology.
Artificial Intelligence Journalism and many other technologies that will be provided by the 4IR, includes: Mobile Devices, IOF Platforms, Location detection technologies, Advanced human-machine interfaces, Authentication & Fraud Detection, 3D printing, Smart sensors, Big Data analytics and advanced algorithms, Multilevel customer interaction and customer profiling, augmented reality and wearables, Cloud computing and Blockchain.
Each of these technologies has a great role in pushing AI Journalism. High-definition Mobile Devices for imaging, transmission and communication with (4G, 5G, G6, G7) networks or new networks are 1,000 times faster than current speeds, as well as have direct contact with several rotary satellites, connected to media channels or to social communication networks directly.
This would allow the journalist or media or even news robot with such technologies for writing, photography, editing and broadcasting to take AI Journalism to a higher level and lead to huge jump in the media industry.
Internet of Things (IOT) platforms will also have a significant impact in the growth of AI journalism and works on providing continuous and fast communication between various media tools such as cameras, studios, computers, mobile phones, robots, satellites and others or technology tools that convey content and news. Open data platform and 3D printing are the others.
In conclusion, there is strong need for more research and investment in the future of the media industry under the Artificial Intelligence Journalism revolution.
Media institutions must rethink their existence, strategize to take advantage, while development partners, AUC, governments and ministries embraced and deploy AI technology to solve the myriad of problems confounding the country and Africa.