SA launches its first AI industry association

The association will focus on economic growth, trade, investment, equality, and inclusivity.

South Africa has seen the launch of its first-ever artificial intelligence (AI) industry association.

Called the South African Artificial Intelligence Association (SAAIA), it has been established to promote responsible AI practices in South Africa.

According to its founder, DR Nick Bradshaw, the association aims to bring together professionals from various sectors such as commerce, government, academia, startups and non-governmental organisations.

“The primary goal of SAAIA is to encourage the adoption of responsible AI for the benefit of South African citizens.

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“The association will focus on economic growth, trade, investment, equality, and inclusivity. By analysing global and local landscapes, SAAIA has identified both the challenges and opportunities that AI and related technologies can bring to South Africa,” Dr Bradshaw explained.

Voice of industry

SAAIA has set ten key objectives, including serving as the voice of the industry, providing research for informed decision-making and assisting government in policy-making, among others.

Dr Bradshaw emphasized the impact of AI and automation on various industries globally. He stated that these technologies are revolutionising traditional industries faster than ever before, creating both opportunities and challenges.

He said that the SAAIA aims to ensure that AI is adopted responsibly, benefiting both businesses and society, while prioritizing regulation, economic growth, trade, investment, fairness, equality, and inclusivity.

AI refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence, like problem-solving or learning from data.

In South Africa, AI is being used to improve healthcare, enhance transportation systems, and even help with wildlife conservation efforts.

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While presents numerous opportunities for progress, some South Africans have expressed concerns and resistance toward its adoption. One common worry is the potential impact of AI on jobs. Many fear that automation and AI-driven technologies could replace human workers, leading to unemployment and economic disparities.

Ethical implications

Additionally, there are concerns about the ethical implications of AI, including issues such as privacy, data security, and algorithmic bias.

South Africans want to ensure that AI systems are developed and used responsibly, without infringing on individual rights or perpetuating discrimination.

One important concern regarding AI is its tendency to discriminate against black individuals due to non-diverse programming.

According to reports, AI systems are trained using large datasets, which can unintentionally contain biases reflecting historical inequalities or societal prejudices. If these biases are not properly addressed during the development and training phases, AI algorithms can perpetuate discriminatory outcomes.