Kashifu Inuwa, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has made it clear that the country will even benefit more by deploying artificial intelligence in critical sectors.
Inuwa reiterated this in his keynote address on “Artificial Intelligence: Effective Communication for National Security” at the 2023 Security and Spokespersons Awards and Conference which held in Abuja.
Alluding to the fact that Artificial Intelligence(AI) is already changing daily lives, almost entirely in ways that improve human health, safety, and productivity, Inuwa averred that AI is beyond a tool, as it is a new way of building a relationship between humans and machines.
“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 which can help meet certain human needs”, Inuwa said.
While highlighting some of the benefits of emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, the Director-General said that the algorithm which is the AI that powers social media is a machine that needs to be trained and controlled, to avoid it spiralling 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 redlined that AI must not cross, to achieve this, last year we started our journey by crowdsourcing on how to build National AI Policy and we have the first draft ready”, Inuwa maintained.
According to Inuwa, “when the present administration came onboard, 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 do research on Artificial Intelligence, so that we get a 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.
The NITDA Boss who also emphasised the need to speed up efforts to connect the unconnected in order for them to be digitally feasible ahead of the AI adoption and deployment in the country, added that if they are infeasible, the AI will not consider them while making decisions.
Inuwa who went on to explain other perspectives, including data and security, sued for global standards for the regulation of 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 amd train it in another country and decide to take it elsewhere, it will not work, hence, the need for global data for every one use to train it”, Inuwa enunciated.
Also harping on Nigeria’s abundant resources, talents and youthful population, Inuwa affirmed that the country has a competitive advantage in becoming the frontier in digital technological innovation.
“Although we lost out during the first, second and third Industrial Revolutions because they needed capital investment but 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.
In conclusion, Inuwa avowed that AI is a top priority for NITDA as the Agency’s National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR) underpins the attention drawn to it.
The event which was the 5th in its series was organised by Image Merchant Promotion Ltd in conjunction with Coalition Society Organizations also featured presentations on Security and Spokespersons Communication Awards as well as goodwill messages.