Artificial intelligence industry body launches in SA

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 06 Jun 2023

An artificial intelligence (AI) industry body has been launched in SA. The South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA) says it will focus on promoting the advancement of responsible AI in the country.

It also aims to unite practitioners across commercial, government, academic, start-up and non-governmental organisation sectors.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, founderof SAAIA, says: “Our research has shown that AI and related automationtechnologies are currently impacting 120+ traditional industries globally andcreating new opportunities and challenges in timescale never seen before.

“The speed of this disruption is faster than any other industrial revolution that has gone before it.

“SAAIA seeks to encourage stakeholders in the adoption of responsible AI for the commercial and societal benefit of the citizens of SA, with a primary focus on regulation, economic growth, trade, investment, fairness, equality and inclusivity.”

The launch comes as SA witnesses accelerated interest in AI-based technologies, as AI platforms such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT gain prevalence.

The communications ministry, in partnership with academia, has established two AI hubs at the universities of Tshwane and Johannesburg.

The AI hubs are in line with the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and for knowledge generation, research and development, as well as implementation capabilities of AI applications in the country, the communications department noted.

Meanwhile, the Information Regulator has indicated it is holding internal discussions on how to approach the regulation of AI technologies, to ensure they don’t violate data privacy laws.

The association notes its mission is underpinned by key objectives, such as providing analysis and research to inform strategy and decision-making; helping national, provincial and local governments with policy-making; uniting buyers and suppliers to grow the economy; connecting SMMEs to funding; and showcasing the best of South African AI innovation and research.

The association’s founding advisory board is made up of a range of organisations, including Michalsons, ExploreAI, Cirrus AI, TinyML Foundation, Augmented Startups, Data Economy Policy Hub, mLab, Zindi, Technology Innovation Agency, ecosystem.Ai, Tshwane University of Technology, Western Cape Provincial Government and Webber Wentzel.

SAAIA says membership is free and members gain access to resources, insights and news throughout the year.

The association will host a roadshow series kicking-off in Pretoria on 19 July.