Prof. Kah on Why Data Science is Important for African Youths

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Professor Muhammadou M.O. Kah has stressed the importance of data science and its various applications.

 

Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning, are important disciplines for African youths and, specifically, AUN undergraduates and postgraduate students, to pursue.  These are disciplines of the future and currently in high demand globally and they are key to the emerging platform economy.

Prof. Kah highlighted that in the past few decades, advancements and innovations on the internet continue to revolutionize the computing industry and human interaction and exchanges and gave rise to the platform economy and the importance of social media.

Prof Kah said the exciting disciplines and emerging areas in the IT and computing world is data science and its applications in the domains of health, bio and medical sciences, smart agriculture, education, business and finance, oil & gas, government, artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, robotics, bioinformatics, cyber security, and cryptocurrencies.

Prof. Kah shared these perspectives with participants in closing remarks he gave after Dr. Rajesh Prasad, Assistant Professor in SITC, gave his presentation on Clustering Algorithms and its Applications in Data Science, on Wednesday. October 18.

Prof Kah opined that a seminar such as this ought to attract a diversity of participants, especially as it relates to these emerging disciplines such as data science, the key to future endeavors.  The emerging and yet to be solved problems and challenges of society, industry, government, including domains of health, agriculture, finance, climate change, education, alternate and/or renewable energy and security threats, will hopefully be addressed through advancements in these emerging disciplines--data science, artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, robotics and intelligent systems. It requires interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations.

Prof. Kah argued that advancements and innovations in these important disciplines would increasingly challenge our laws, regulations, work/employment as we know it, our sovereignty, human interactions, privacy, money, and transactions as we know it, as well as risk, wealth creation, etc.  All of these are going to be continually disrupted and challenged by the innovations, advancements and the emergence of sophisticated, smart algorithms and machines.

Provost Kah further suggested that human creativity and endeavor would continue to be stretched with emerging innovations with newer applications, including those at the micro/nano level and fast solutions, solving difficult challenges faced by humans, especially in the areas of health and agriculture for food security.  He conveyed to the participants that the actors, agents, and leaders will be increasingly young and youthful and the leaders will be wealth creators and will be key players in global dominance. “You at AUN have a huge chance to be in the driver's seat and key players and we expect nothing less from you…. Already our undergraduate alumni are employed in Silicon Valley in Google, and others are leading tech startups in Nigeria….”

The seminar had students who are undergraduates, graduates, and faculty and staff members in attendance.  “And once again, you as future IT & Computing  researchers and future scientists are the ones that should be at the forefront,” he told the students, adding that, “the world, and Africa in particular, need the supply of quality data scientists and there is not enough.”  Thus, a huge opportunity to develop the requisite competencies here at AUN, he said.

The provost mentioned areas where data science is applicable such as in smart agriculture and bioinformatics.  Other areas are in education, telecommunications, health, oil and gas, and finance.

On how they can tap into this new world of exciting opportunities, Prof. Kah advised the students to take mathematics, statistics, programming and algorithm subjects seriously in addition to courses that can enhance their programming skills, such as logic, reading, and writing.  “You don’t need to be in Yale, Harvard, or any Ivy League university to contribute and be competent in the data science world and be a data scientist.  You can be adequately prepared here in Yola at AUN!"

For the graduate students, he advised them to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that are provided to them.  “Anyone majoring in computer science or IT shouldn’t just think in a closed minded way…. Not just earn a degree but be someone who can go on to build impactful applications that can solve humanity and large social problems and challenges that we have and create wealth and employment in the process."

By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa

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