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Kenya is ill-prepared for disruption anticipated with the adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

This was the underlying message yesterday at the ongoing summit on artificial intelligence and machine learning in Nairobi.

Hundreds of delegates from across the world are meeting to explore current and future applications of the technology.

One of the key attractions at the forum is Furhat, a ‘social robot’, which is capable of conducting conversations with humans. The robot takes the shape of a human bust and is able to detect and mimic common facial expressions such as smiling and frowning.

“This can be used as a physical digital assistant where unlike Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa you are able to interact with it in a more physical form,’ explained Preben Wik, co-founder of Furhat Robotics, the company that manufactures the robot.

Wik, however, said mass deployment of the technology is still further into the future, although two Furhat robots have been deployed in schools in Sweden to assist autistic children and those with learning disabilities as part of a pilot study. 

ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng said Kenya should put in place mechanisms that will safeguard citizens’ privacy and also ensure the technology is deployed ethically.

artificial intelligence machine learning ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng
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