AI Is Required To Boost Productivity In Vital Economic Sectors, Says Kashifu Inuwa

The need to investigate and apply artificial intelligence (AI) to boost productivity in vital areas of the country’s economy has been emphasized by Kashifu Inuwa, the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency. As the world increasingly uses cutting-edge technologies like AI to shape lives and businesses,

During her keynote speech on “Artificial Intelligence: Effective Communication for National Security” at the 2023 Security and Spokespersons Awards and Conference, held in Abuja, Inuwa disclosed this information.

Inuwa claimed that artificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a tool and that it is a new means of fostering a relationship between humans and machines. This claim referred to the reality that AI is already altering daily lives, nearly exclusively in ways that increase human health, safety, and productivity.

“In building that relationship, we need to look beyond just having a tool we use for our daily activities and start thinking in the direction of developing a system that can help meet certain human needs”, Inuwa said.

The Director-General noted the advantages of new technologies, especially artificial intelligence, but also noted that social media’s AI algorithm is a machine that must be trained and managed to prevent it from going out of control.

“Due to the happenings on social media, industry practitioners are pushing for “explainability in the AI”, also referred to as “black box” within the AI algorithm”

“Imagine having a system that makes decisions for us and does not understand the way it came about making that decision, now, that is indeed a red flag, having AI go out of control, so, we need to get AI to be always for humanity, because it is the most existential threat to humanity today”, the DG stressed.

Inuwa said, “Countries around the world are making efforts toward deciphering the functionalities of artificial intelligence and coming up with policies and putting standards in place to ensure they are AI-ready countries, and so Nigeria cannot take the back seat”.

“In Nigeria, we are looking at it from three perspectives; having AI-ready principles, data, and AI-ready security”.

“This invariably means that as a matter of principle, we should have redlines that AI must not cross, to achieve this, last year we started our journey by crowdsourcing on how to build a National AI Policy and we have the first draft ready”, Inuwa maintained.

According to Inuwa, “When the present administration came on board, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu mandated the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy to accelerate the diversification of the Nigerian economy by enhancing productivity in critical sectors through technological innovation, and we strongly believe that to achieve this, AI is our best tool to use in that regard”.

“To take this further, we launched a call for research, where we are offering a grant to forty-five Nigerians to research Artificial Intelligence, so that we get feedback on how to use AI in Health, Education, Agriculture, Finance, Security and many more.”

“We are giving up to N5Million to each researcher because we want to co-create and design the policy collaboratively, not the government using armchair theories to come up with the policies, we need everybody to be onboard”, the Director-General noted.

Inuwa added that if they are not feasible, the AI will not take them into account when making decisions. Inuwa also emphasized the need to accelerate efforts to connect the disconnected for them to be digitally feasible ahead of the adoption and deployment of AI in the nation.

He went on to discuss other viewpoints, such as data and security, and his lawsuit for international guidelines governing AI.

“We are seeing how AI is becoming biased, gender biased and even exhibiting racist behaviour, partly because of the data used to develop it. So, if you develop an AI system and train it in another country and decide to take it elsewhere, it will not work, hence, the need for global data for everyone use to train it”, Inuwa enunciated.

Reiterating the benefits of Nigeria’s youthful population, wealth, and talent, Inuwa confirmed that the nation has a competitive edge in leading the way in digital technological innovation.

“Although we lost out during the first, second, and third Industrial Revolutions because they needed capital investment in the fourth, we can use our talents to compete with any country in the world, given the fact that talent is the human component of technology”.

“To achieve this, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, unveiled the Strategic Plan for the Ministry which has strategic pillars, including, Knowledge, Policies, Infrastructure, and Trade”, the DG mentioned.

Finally, Inuwa declared that NITDA places a high priority on AI, citing the support provided by the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) of the Agency.

The fifth event in the series, which was organized by Image Merchant Promotion Ltd. in collaboration with Coalition Society Organisations, included speeches about security and the Spokespersons Communication Awards in addition to messages of goodwill.