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Engineers seek to develop ethically designed tech for Africa

By Fredrick Obura | Published Mon, May 14th 2018 at 16:09, Updated May 15th 2018 at 14:21 GMT +3
Dr Karen Bartleson, President of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

NAIROBI, KENYA: African consumers will soon be able to interact more with ethically designed technologies as engineers step up engagement with policy makers in the continent.

Dr Karen Bartleson, President of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) said the body has embarked on three aspects which includes bringing policy makers and technologists together to better understand Africa’s environment.

 “Engineers are creating amazing things but what we have realized as an institution is that we need to consider the ethics before we design; be it artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, robots and things like that,” said Dr Bartleson.

“We have been working on ethically aligned designs and we will be able to bring that to bare in a lot of work that we are going to do in Africa,” she said.

IEEE produces most of the world’s technical information and standards in electrical technologies, electronics, power engineering, robotics and automation, computer engineering, computer science, and other related technologies.

It presently supports more than 430,000 engineers and technologists, thousands of universities and private corporations R&D centres, powering innovations in all branches of engineering worldwide, providing technical resources, standards and tools for collaboration to engineers. 

The institution said it will focus on work force development, building sustainable communities of local engineers and bringing policy makers and technologists together to help African Union and individual states within the continent meet their development goals.

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“We know that the African Union and individual countries in Africa have development plans and those development plans include building engineering capacity,”

“Our focus to Africa has three aspects to it; Work force development, build sustainable communities of local engineers, bring policy makers and technologists together.” She said adding that when policy makers have understanding of technology, they make better policies in the tech space.

Technologists need to understand how policies work and what social implications are of what we do.

Speaking in Kigali about the engagements, Engineer Vincent Kaabunga chair of the IEEE AdHoc Committee for Activities in Africa said the corporation was keen to avail technical resources to support policy development in the smart alliance member states and also enable quality and diversity of science and engineering education for socio-economic development.


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