Leading with love is one of RLabs main values, it means to put people first by creating environments of love and hope. AI: Beyond The Hype was an environment created for the community to embrace new technologies and AI first-hand. A first-time experience for many in attendance and an opportunity for community members to learn about and understand why technology has advanced in this way, and how it can be beneficial in our daily lives and within many different working environments.
Courtney Grill, who is only 21 years old, and the Lead Data Analysts of the RLabs … team, kickstarted the event with a warm welcoming speech. For dramatic effect, she even admitted to using an AI tool to help her write it, showcasing how AI can help us with daily tasks. Courtney is an example of how excitedly youth are stepping into and embracing an AI-driven future.
“Technology is the future, so I wouldn’t want anyone to be stuck in the past, therefore I’m confident that this will be a beneficial learning experience,” Courtney says before handing over to Rene Parker, CEO of RLabs.
Rene is an ambassador for technology and believes that “We have the opportunity to embrace AI beyond the hype and unlock its full potential. By harnessing AI as a powerful tool, we can shape our future careers and contribute to the development of a technology-driven society that benefits us all. The path to success lies not in resisting AI, but in embracing it with enthusiasm and a determination to use it to make a positive impact.”
To Rene’s surprise, the auditorium was filled with 176 people of all generations. She was excited to see more people her age from the community joining an AI event, as everyone must be willing to learn and upskill themselves in newer technologies. “It’s everywhere and we cannot get away from it,” she said.
The main part of the event was a panel discussion led by Marlon Parker, Founder of RLabs. The panellists were leading experts in Artificial Intelligence namely, Janet Sawari, Kalebu Gwalugano and Storm Rhoda.
Janet Sawari is the CEO and founder of TAIR Labs, an AI Research and Innovation Lab based in Cape Town. After completing her Honors Degree, she explained how she was thrown into the deep end on her first working project, where she had her first interaction with AI technology. It was a driverless car and she had to take the lead for her team with little experience… Now she is the visionary behind an AI-assisted labelling, model and collaborative tool that enables anyone to build an AI with no code. This is Tair Labs’ latest product called, X-VSN, pronounced X-Vision.
Kalebu Gwalungano is the Founder of Neurotech Africa, based in Tanzania. His journey with AI was not formally started as he is a self-taught machine learning engineer, with a diploma in software engineering. Kalebu’s interest in artificial intelligence sparked after watching the movie Ex Machina. He says, “I was inspired by this movie, they kind of tried to depict an artificial superintelligence, and I was mind-blown by this movie and what this thing could do.” Since then he slowly taught himself to code and create AI tools. 5 years later, he is the founder of his own AI company, an open-source contributor, speaker, and an advocate for AI in Africa. Kalebu firmly believes that “AI is coming as an equaliser.”
Storm Rhoda is the Founder of African Intelligent Machines (AIM), based in Cape Town. AIM specialises in developing cutting-edge AI technology solutions for a wide range of industries, with a focus on the medical sector. While completing high school in 2020, Storm created an algorithm to detect pneumonia in chest X-rays and CT scans. He represented South Africa at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), where he placed 52nd in the world in the robotics and Intelligent Machines category. The project also received the official Intel ISEF 2020 Abstract and Certification and was also approved by the Scientific Review Committee.
The excitement and enthusiasm in the room could be felt as soon as the panellists took the stage, without wasting any time the audience dove straight into their burning questions, such as:
With these technologies you’re working on, how do you stop people from hacking your systems and taking them over to cause harm to others?
What platforms can be accessed right now to find open-source data or large-scale data that can assist startup or SME businesses?
For a developer who wants to get started in AI, where do you get started or how do you start?
How original are the ideas that come from AI and can it innovate?
Are there simulators where the public can access autonomous cars? And are there opportunities with local businesses in road safety to collaborate in bringing down the number of road fatalities?
Since AI is a revolutionary technology, what is being put into place to protect the impact on the environment?
With many more and a wide range of other questions asked, the panellists tackled each one, giving their different opinions and sharing their vast knowledge of AI, giving advice on the changing world of technology. It was indeed a unique and groundbreaking moment for most of those in attendance.
AI is no longer the future, it is the now and yes, it is normal to fear the unknown or how much technology is going to take over our daily lives, but as Rene Parker said, “Technology is really just a tool. It can be anything, but it’s just how (we) use it.”
Be sure to keep an eye on the RLabs social media accounts for more information about upcoming AI events! Since it is becoming the norm now, there will doubtlessly be many more.