Startup in Artificial Intelligence seeks to integrate nature with tech

Sunbird Al  Executive Director, Mr Ernest Tumwebaze. PHOTO/COURTESY 

The subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one that is gaining traction on the continent from the optimists to the pessimists all having their views.

But one company has started developing and integrating in the social life starting with tracking noise variations around communities to translating local languages.

However, there are policy hurdles that developers like Sunbird hope they can convince the government to change.

Mr Ernest  Mwebaze, Sunbird Al  Executive Director Mr Ernest Mwebaze says that  AI is the biggest form of the industrial revolution and Sunbird AI is creating practical solutions to AI systems with the goal of building a body of evidence for decision making.

“We know that AI can help in lip frogging over these historical and structural problems we have had for long and bring a unique social good where people can operate in a more efficient way, want to gear-up resources, conserve the environment and touch people’s lives,” Mr Mwebaze notes.

He says: “We want to understand for example products and how many products come from here and where the customers are. All these things can be done by AI or even noise. The people most affected by things we are trying to do in the community are measuring noise or understanding the languages.”

These he says are the types of things the Kikubo person (people downtown) can be the first beneficiary because they want to trade across districts and also want to know the noise profile of the environment they are working in which they can use to make better decisions.

However, he is quick to single out that what they really want now is a concrete document touching AI and the policy.

“Policy is the only way we can create sustainable change in AI. What we are currently doing in policy is that we are using AI to create evidence to create tech data, algorithms to process it to get evidence for policy,” he explains.

He cites an example of a project they are doing with noise pollution; where they use AI to build these algorithms and sensors that capture noise levels and from those you want to synthesize an acoustic map of an area and then make decisions.

“It is from that that we can understand whether is it a good place to have a school or hospital or is it a good place to live. This means that you are collecting data and using the sensors to make information which can be used to make policy,” Mr Mwebaze adds.

“Building AI policy that is contextual is quite different. We do not want to import policies from our Western partners but we want to build policy that speaks to our context," he further emphasized. 

Dr Amina Zawedde, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT, says that in Africa we do not yet know the scale of the problem but with time we will know because sometimes people just sit then collapse, and thereafter they are pronounced dead and we do not know why.

“This could be one of the causes that we may not be aware of. I believe we will be able to get solutions to some of these problems. The Ministry pledges support to Sunbird AI and urges all Ugandans to support AI supporting our own and growing Uganda together,” Dr Zawedde noted. 

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