One Fifty Four to Everything, Everywhere, All at Once <> After the 2023 Deep Learning Indaba

This is my response to Shakir Mohamed's (fellow Indaba co-founder and trustee) question during the 2023 DLIndaba: "What do you do when all of your dreams have come true?"

The group photo in front of the Balmer Library at the University of Ghana.

So what do I think is next for the Indaba and wider African AI community? -> Scaling Hyperscale While Embracing Our Diversity

Africa is not just a continent; it is a tapestry of 54 unique and diverse countries, each with its own rich culture, history, and aspirations. When visiting Nike Art Gallery in Lagos (I left the Indaba 2 days early), Mama Nike shared the tag line 1-54 (One Fifty Four). 1 African Continent, 54 Countries. This stuck with me. In thinking about what is next, we need to take care of everyone. As such, to borrow from another piece of art, we will have to tackle our challenges "Everything, Everywhere, All at once" so as to be able to become the shapers of our own AI destiny on the African continent. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once will reflect the commitment to harnessing the power of AI to address challenges and create opportunities across this vibrant mosaic that is our continent. We are best placed to take care of not only the technical but the socio-economic aspects of this ongoing revolution.

Mama Nike and myself at Nike Art Gallery in Lagos Nigeria (9 September 2023)

The Deep Learning Indaba and its sister/brother organisations need to expand their reach, impact, and influence across the continent and beyond. We all should be committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in AI research, education, and innovation on the African continent. However, as we grow, we should be acutely aware of the importance of preserving the essence of who we are.

We grow fast, but we do so while being mindful of the grassroots that got us here. The grassroots symbolise the dedication, passion, and hard work of countless individuals who have contributed to the Indaba's success. These are the educators, students, researchers, and enthusiasts who have made this community what it is today. We owe it to them to remain rooted in our values and principles.

The numbers for the 2023 Deep Learning Indaba in Accra Ghana. The DLI is unlike any AI conference in the world. We still need to work to get to the remaining 18 African countries. Remember One Fifty Four!!!!

"Your work matters." These are not just words; they are a call to action. Every member of the Indaba community plays a vital role in shaping the future of AI in Africa and the world. Let's act like it. Let's be excellent in everything we do. Excellence is not just a goal; it is our standard.

As we look to the future, we should be committed to ensuring that the Deep Learning Indaba remains inclusive, diverse, and representative of the entire continent. We should continue to collaborate with partners, organisations, and individuals who share our vision of using AI to drive positive change.

This road won't be easy. It will require us to support many across the African continent. I have over the years made my thoughts known that we need to make sure we can increase the amount of local support and/or sponsorship. We especially need industry across the continent to make an investment into local R&D, they cannot stand on the sidelines.

That's what I think is next. It's a journey of growth, innovation, and excellence, all while honouring our roots and embracing the incredible diversity of Africa. Together, we will make a lasting impact on AI and, in turn, on the lives of millions.

Connect with  Data Science for Social Impact (DSFSI) lab at UP at the University of Pretoria

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