Science, tech minister joins global AI council

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Science and technology minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
Science and technology minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

Science and technology minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has been nominated as a member of a new multi-stakeholder global artificial intelligence (AI) council.

In the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, leaders, government and civil society have been called to embrace the wave of technological changes. Special skills in areas such as AI, blockchain, drone technology and the Internet of things are considered vital.

In SA, both industry and government have been vocal about the importance of the fourth industrial revolution, noting the country should seize opportunities as it cannot afford being left behind.

According to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the global AI council is organised by the World Economic Forum's Centre for the fourth industrial revolution and will comprise ministers and heads of regulatory agencies, chief executives, technical and civil society experts from countries across the globe.

As part of the council, Kubayi-Ngubane is now among the global leaders who will provide strategic guidance to the international community on the priorities for AI and machine learning governance and cooperation, while helping to shape policy development and pilot implementation work undertaken across the centres in the network.

The DST notes the process of serving in the council upon nomination involves a formal acceptance of the nomination. This is then followed by a letter confirming membership to the council; at this point the nominated member can start serving as a member.

Kubayi-Ngubane states: "I urge everyone to come on board so that we can harness the benefits of the technologies that are bringing about the fourth industrial revolution.

"As active participants in the fourth industrial revolution, we will be able to wield it for our own purposes which are to deal with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. New industries will emerge out of this revolution and it will also redefine jobs which will necessarily require us to develop a new set of skills, especially for the youth, different from those that are currently in the market.

"Artificial intelligence is a very important technology that very soon will affect every sphere of our lives. I am very humbled and honoured to be part of global leaders that will work on this special effort to build trust and deepen understanding about the most appropriate and effective forms of AI and machine learning governance and cooperation."

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