Data Science Nigeria (DSN), an NGO, on Wednesday unveiled the first Artificial Intelligence (AI) book for primary and secondary schools as part of its plan to raise one million AI experts.
The unveiling which was done at a Summit in Lagos was to promote knowledge in AI and related fields for socio-economic development of Nigeria.
In computer science, Artificial Intelligence, sometime called Machine Intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans.
The Convener, DSN, Dr Olubayo Adekanmbi. said that as a nation of 200 million people, with median age at 18 years, it was important to prepare the young people for the future by exposing them to the right skills.
Adekambi said that especially when it was known that most of the jobs today would go into extinction in the next five to 10 years.
According to him, the question was what becomes of the country with so much young people who were lacking in the right skills for the ‘future jobs?
”That informed the whole idea of Data Science Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Skill Building. It has become a mandate.
”We have taken up the responsibility to say that children in this country have access to the same knowledge that students in San Francisco, Paris and London have by creating a book that will be distributed free.
”We are not going through the traditional model ‘I buy for my child’ rather ‘you buy for a community or the whole school’.
“The approach is: “make knowledge in a simplified manner,’’ he said.
Adekanmbi said that it was also to build a system that would pass on knowledge and that informed working with various state governments to run a lot of ‘train-the-trainer’ programmes to equip the teachers.
He said that DSN was going to train the teachers in batches on AI as well as giving them a few copies of the book so as to pass on to the children till every part of the country is reached.
The convener said that government could be a part of the process to raise one million inspired young people to change the country’s narrative and make Nigeria the AI destination in future.
He called for integrating AI as part of the national curriculum which would generate more attention by the students toward learning the discipline.
He, however, urged government to support the effective production of the book which was being given out free so that every Nigerian child would be exposed to the possibilities of AI.
”Let them build the right skills and let’s get our nation ready for the opportunities that AI presents; shaping opportunity creation, innovation, invention research, and transformational possibilities,’’ Adekanmbi said.
Also at the Summit, in a keynote presentation titled, ‘Artificial Intelligence for Development’, Prof. Thomas Dietterich, described AI as a catalyst for economic advancement.
Dietterich, Director of Intelligent Systems Research, Oregon State University, said that AI presented opportunities for economic transformation in unique ways.
According to him, although, the developing economies still lack in some areas with regards to AI adoption and applications.
“However, organisations such as DSN had shown clear roadmap capable of putting the country on the right footings and build the national competitiveness, given the right skills, ’’ Dietterich said.
He noted that developing AI enabled weather management solutions that would assist the continent address some challenges faced by farmers, thereby leading to improved food production and sufficiency.
The don said that with the growing community of AI enthusiasts and learners, Nigeria and indeed Africa would witness a major boost in skills needed for research and development.
He said the skills would focus on bringing applied Artificial Intelligence solutions to existing community problems.
While applauding the First AI book for Primary and Junior Secondary School students in Nigeria, Dietterich urged experts and stakeholders to rave-up DSN’s mission of delivering positive impact to the society using Artificial Intelligence.
NAN reports that the highlights of the event were the unveiling of the book as well as the impromptu debate on Artificial Intelligence by students.
The debate was won by Julliard Academy, 422 points; second position was Chrisland School, 412 points; and the third was Atlantic Hall, 399 points.
Edited by Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
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