18 March 2014

Kenya: IBM Formally Launches Project Lucy

Scientist from the continent as well as stakeholders in the ICT sector have today met to discuss ways of deriving maximum benefits from IBM's Project Lucy and to address development challenges in a colloquium that showcased how Watson will benefit Africa.

Speaking during the launch IBM Research vice president for Global apps Dr Robert Morris said the continent stands to gain a lot from the cognitive computing given the challenges Africa faces.

Dr Morris stated that Watson supercomputer center built-in Project Lucy will deliver much needed cognitive experience to the masses and has already engaged over 750 developers, 500 subject matter experts and will invest $100 billion in equity startups.

"We are delivering knowledge at a whole new level and do expect to respond to questions even raised through SMS on top of the internet as a way to ensure we serve people using all types of devices," he said.

Dr. Morris added that Project Lucy will augment and extend human capability by facilitating new discovering and understanding as well enabling the coming up of more well thought through decisions.

Chief guest cabinet secretary for ICT Dr Fred Matiang'i said Kenya faces a number of challenges most of which can be addressed by Project Lucy including education, health and the ever growing traffic jams.

"We are currently discussing how to reduce the country's wage bill and we are seeking answers as to how we can balance our current recurrent expenditure and finance Kenya's budget. It is thus such answers that we will be looking forward to get from this facility," said Matiang'i.

Other speakers at the colloquium emphasized the need for government to make decisions based on research and aimed at increasing efficiency.

"Watson needs more training on how to handle African problems," said Dorothy Gordon, director general of Ghana-India Koffi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT.

Other topics discussed during the forum included: Africa's grand challenges and new business opportunities as well as big data and Africa in the new era in computing.

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