In her welcome address at the event, Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, DVC for Research, Innovation and Engagement said the launch of SAAIA follows the launch of the TUT Hub of the Artificial Intelligence Institute of South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies as well as the University of Johannesburg.
“This historic venture seeks the adoption of the application of Artificial Intelligence to solve multiple societal challenges with the objective of improving the lives of the South African population and contributing to its economic well-being.”
“It further seeks to equip the next generation of the workforce in this country with the necessary skills to make an impact within the sector of Artificial Intelligence,” said Dr Papu-Zamxaka.
Prof Anish Kurien, Acting Director of the TUT Artificial Intelligence Hub, said the South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA) aims to encourage stakeholders to adopt responsible AI for the commercial and societal beneﬁt of South Africa, with a primary focus on economic growth, regulation, trade, investment, fairness, equality and inclusivity.
“Our research has shown that AI and related automation technologies are currently impacting on more than 120 traditional industries globally and creating new opportunities and challenges in timescale never seen before,” said CEO of AI Media and SAAIA founder, Dr Nick Bradshaw.
According to him, the vision of the SAAIA has been shaped by analysing the global and local landscapes, identifying needs and filling the blanks with research, which has revealed the challenges and opportunities that AI and the related smart technologies can bring to South Africa.
“Our vision is evidence-based with responsible, human-centric AI as its foundation,” he added.
Overall, SAAIA aims to engage individuals and organisations, novices, experts, the connected and unconnected, while bringing together various commercial, government, academic, start-up and non-profit organisation practitioners. The association’s vision is underpinned by ten key objectives.
These include serving as the voice of the industry; providing analysis and research to inform strategy and decision-making; promoting debate on inclusion, ethics, regulation and standards; assisting national, provincial and city governments with policymaking; and sharing best practice and educational resources for all.
The founding advisory board members are derived from a diverse range of organisations, including TUT, the DCDT, UJ, Michalsons; GIZ; ExploreAI; Cirrus AI; TinyML Foundation; Augmented Startups; Data Economy Policy Hub; Socially Acceptable; mLab; Zindi; Technology Innovation Agency; ecosystem. Ai; Western Cape Government; and Webber Wentzel.