Artificial Intelligence Mainstreaming in our Society: Is Ghana Prepared?
AI is capable of almost anything, from predicting patterns to creating images, like this one. Image: Bing Image Creator

Artificial Intelligence Mainstreaming in our Society: Is Ghana Prepared?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most profound innovations of our time. 

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Artificial Intelligence can be described as an inanimate object's ability, such as a machine, to display intelligence akin to human behaviour and intellect.

In this direction, a machine can perform speech recognition, solve complex problems, undertake translations and interpretations, perform high-level computations, and make decisions without human intervention.

AI can be classified based on what it can do; we can have Narrow AI, also known as weak AI, which performs a narrowly defined set of specific tasks without any thinking ability.

Another type of AI is Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), also called strong AI, where machines can think and make decisions similar to humans.

There are currently no existing examples of Strong AI; however, it is believed that we will soon be able to create machines as smart as humans. The most advanced form of AI is known as Artificial Super Intelligence ( ASI), where the capabilities of machines are expected to surpass human intelligence; currently, it is a future and hypothetical proposition.  

According to Grand View Research  the global artificial intelligence market size is USD 136.55 billion in 2022.

Also it is estimated that AI can contribute over US$1.5 billion to Africa's GDP by 2030.

Ghana, like the rest of the world, is also deploying AI in various facets of its society.

However, we are yet to record any revolutionary application of AI, although there is a beehive of activities around AI in Ghana, including training, policy formulation initiatives (National Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2023-2033), startups focusing on AI solutions provision and Ghana is the home of Google’s first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Africa.

All over the world, countries are racing to put in mechanisms which can ensure they can leverage the power of AI as a strategic tool for enhancing their national vision. As this happens, the European Union is developing an AI law, which when approved, will be the world’s first attempt at creating rules to govern AI.

The provision in the AI Act includes bans on biometric surveillance, emotion recognition, predictive policing AI systems, tailor-made regimes for general-purpose AI and foundation models like GPT, and provision of a complaint mechanism about AI systems.

The goal of this new AI law is to ensure a human-centric and ethical development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Europe, based on risk-management rules for AI systems.

Regarding AI preparedness, Ghana is taking baby steps to ensure it is not left behind in the AI race.

The fundamental challenge remains in key areas, such as how to take AI conversations to the grassroots level, enabling a bottom-up approach to AI mainstreaming, thereby creating the environment for AI to be made more inclusive and part and parcel of our society.

That being said, situating AI policy in typical tech government ministry will constrict Ghana’s ability to mainstream AI into every fabric of society significantly because AI is much more complex and multidisciplinary in nature.

It would be prudent for policy makers to take a distributed policy approach whereby all sectors of the economy are part and parcel of AI policy development with the office of the president playing a coordinating role while working hand in hand with the legislative and judiciary arms of government.

The establishment of a well-resourced independent AI Commission for Ghana can become an impetus to drive Ghana’s vision of using AI as a tool for development.

The success of the AI commission will be based on its ability to create distributed offices integrated into Ghana’s local government machinery.

Also, a critical enabler of rapid AI solutions development in Ghana is the facilitation of the nexus of education, private sector, research and government working hand in hand to ensure innovative AI applications instead of working in silos.

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Ghana could establish itself as the centre of excellence in AI capacity building for Africa and the rest of the world, but as yet there are a myriad of skills and knowledge needing to be built for Ghana to attain this status.

Further, AI requires specialised technological infrastructure to drive its uptake.

This infrastructure is quite expensive to acquire and operationalize for a country such as Ghana, although the country can rely on third-party infrastructure elsewhere, it must ultimately invest in cutting-edge AI infrastructure to ensure seamless development of home-grown AI solutions.

In conclusion, AI is evolving at the speed of light, and the country needs to accelerate its policy-making process, set up enabling legislative environment, create a conducive ecosystem for AI applications to strive, develop its human capital in AI and, more importantly, ensure responsible, ethical and humane application of AI to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to AI.

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The writer, Dr Kwami Ahiabenu, II is a Technology Innovations Consultant

E-mail: [email protected]

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