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Emerging Tech

Four AI trends to look out for in 2024

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to rapidly evolve, with the promise of a slew of trends that will transform the African technological ecosystem.

Moreover, generative AI has become more popular, with use cases ranging from accelerating process optimization and improving customer experiences to content creation and design. With big tech like Microsoft's Co-pilot and Google's Gemini being integrated across their platforms, it is evident that AI is not going anywhere.

TechTarget describes AI as the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision.

The African Development Bank also believes that Africa has the potential to become a leader in the adoption of AI.

From up-and-coming startups to large corporations, everyone is trying to enhance their business operations by leveraging the power of AI.

The evolution of generative AI, augmented AI, legislative AI, and ethical AI are some of the trends that African's need to keep an eye on in 2024.   (Source: Image by Freepik)
The evolution of generative AI, augmented AI, legislative AI, and ethical AI are some of the trends that African's need to keep an eye on in 2024.
(Source: Image by Freepik)

However, even though AI adoption has skyrocketed in recent years, the adoption and sometimes the use of AI tools in the African context can be lower than the adoption in other markets.

Even though broadband coverage has increased, access to the mobile Internet remains a large problem in Africa. A lack of digital skills and a need for better regulation and infrastructure are some of the other challenges facing AI adoption in Africa.

Be that as it may, the wide application of AI across enterprise as well as in individuals' lives is proof that the moving train of this technology is not stopping.

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four AI trends most likely to impact Africa in 2024.

1. Generative AI's evolution

Some of the most popular generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Anthropic, Google's Gemini and Microsoft's Copilot have all served as examples of the advancements in large AI language models. However, recently, generative AI is evolving.

AI models have now become multimodal tools and are allowing users to mix and match content based on text, audio, image, and video for prompting and generating new content. Multimodal means the combining of different types of data inputs to deliver comprehensive results. The approach involves combining data, such as text, speech and images with advanced algorithms to make predictions and generate outcomes.

2. Augmented intelligence and augmented apps

With the help of AI, professionals from different fields can augment their work.

Augmented intelligence is a subgroup of AI that assists humans rather than replaces them. Augmented intelligence helps humans enhance their capabilities.

Think of doctors using AI-guided diagnostics for procedures; attorneys assisted by AI-curated case references during trials; or software developers helped by AI-driven code suggestions.

The use of apps is also becoming AI-powered with businesses investing billions of dollars to create features like bots, personalized search engines and enhanced cameras, just to name a few.

3. AI legislation

As AI is seamlessly weaving itself into people's lives, it is prompting a shift in the regulatory frameworks of the tech industry.

The upward trajectory of AI has caught the attention of policymakers across the globe. Security, ethical and regulatory concerns around the use of AI especially in Africa have fueled arguments about the need for laws to regulate AI on the continent.

Recently, the use of WorldCoin AI – which gets users to scan their eyeballs on the crystal-ball-looking Worldcoin Orb in exchange for Worldcoin tokens worth around $49 – was suspended by Kenyan authorities who flagged issues around security and data collection.

However, some think the premature adoption of regulation could stifle innovation.

Think-tank ECDPM believes that AI regulatory sandboxes could be the answer and can be used as testbeds for the development of future AI policy and regulations.

4. Ethical AI

The evolution of AI in people's day-to-day lives presents a variety of challenges and brings up questions of ethics. As AI tools are increasingly helping to inform decision-making across different areas, those decisions must be made fairly and transparently.

The challenge, however, goes beyond just engineering unbiased algorithms. Severe standards need to be created to ensure both these systems and their architects are accountable for their creations.

According to Connecting Africa contributor Francis Hook, to safeguard against unethical use of AI and ward off influence that may seek to make Africa beholden to foreign standards and ethics, it is imperative that Africa's policy makers, academia, industry players and civil society act in concert to build the foundation on which current and future AI regulation and ethics will be based.

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*Top image source: Freepik.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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