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NAS mulls framework for artificial intelligence, big data

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The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) yesterday rose from a two-day stakeholders’ workshop in Lagos with the resolve to develop a sustainable policy framework on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data that will support a new direction for training and education in the country.

The workshop had brought together vice chancellors of top universities in the country, policy makers in the ministry, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) researchers, industry experts, digital scientists and infopreneurs to discuss the evolution of big data and AI, its impact on science and technology, and practical steps towards closing the competency gaps in key professional skills in science disciplines.

After two days of brainstorming, NAS promised to harmonise all the recommendations reached and push forward an action plan for the Federal Government to act on through the ministry of science and technology regarding new realities of the digital world.

According to the president of NAS, Prof. Mosto Onuoha, AI is the new oil, and for the country not to be left behind, there is need to establish a new training curriculum to make a vast majority of Nigerians digitally literate.He said: “Presently, there are huge gaps between how the academia is churning out science graduates not readily equipped for today’s market place and the expectations from the industry/employers on the required skill sets they are looking for in today’s graduates, which is on one hand.

“On the other hand, how prepared is the country to harness the opportunities of data analytics and AI, while also guarding against the threats and risks involved.”

In his opening address, the Assistant Vice Chancellor/Founding Director, Big Data, Enterprise and Artificial Intelligence Lab (Big-DEAL), University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom, Prof. Lukumon Oyedele, said: “Our population is wealth, but we are not making use of it by adapting technology in an intelligent way to manage and solve our problems.”

Other speakers included Pro Vice Chancellor (Enterprise) and Dean of Computing, Engineering and Media, De Montfort University, UK, Prof. David Mba; professor of Systems Engineering/Past President NAS, Oye Ibidapo-Obe; Advisor for Higher Education and ICT, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) regional office, Abuja, Abdoulaye Salifou; and Head, ICT, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Biyi Fafunmi.


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