Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

Africa: Elementary, Dear Watson - One Computer's Plan to Save Africa

analysis

We all knew the machines would take over eventually - we just didn't realise it would be quite so soon. With Africa needing a "fix", IBM thinks that its supercomputer Watson has the answer. Will artificial intelligence succeed where humans have failed? By SIMON ALLISON.

Meet Watson.

Watson is a computer - a supercomputer, to be precise - but he's got a lot more personality than your average, run-of-the-mill desktop.

He's the pinnacle, so far, of humanity's development of and interaction with artificial intelligence. Think of him as Siri on a lot of steroids - a vast processing unit that couples advanced data-mining techniques with a unique cognitive ability, allowing it to understand and respond to sophisticated human queries.

Remember this introduction, because if IBM get their way, we Africans will be hearing a lot more from Watson in the future.

IBM has just put $100 million into a ten-year project to bring Watson to (or at least make his intelligence available within) the African continent.

"In the last decade, Africa has been a tremendous growth story - yet the continent's challenges, stemming from population growth, water scarcity, disease, low agricultural yield and other factors are impediments to inclusive economic ...

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