The Director of ICT, Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, Abubakar Isah, has described Artificial Intelligence, AI, as a technology that can be used to develop new products and services; automate machines, improve efficiency and create new opportunities for businesses and individuals. Speaking to students of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA and students from selected secondary schools in Akure environ on the theme “More Than Certificate 3.0” organized by the University’s Technology Park and Incubation Centre, Tech-PIC, on Thursday, 19 October, 2023, Isah said that AI is one of the most transformative technologies of all time and significantly impacts many Industries including healthcare, transportation, manufacturing and finance to mention a few.
He noted during his presentation on the topic “Artificial Intelligence in Innovative Technology” that Artificial Intelligence plays a crucial role in developing new and innovative technologies, particularly affecting human lives. “One of the most exciting aspects of AI is its potential to drive innovations in the education sector and its use in creating smart content, personalized and global learning, hence, the new methods of teaching and learning in the world today”, he said. Describing other uses of Artificial Intelligence in various aspects of life, the Director, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Olugbenga Oderemi noted that AI is deployed in healthcare to develop new drugs and treatments, diagnose diseases and personalize healthcare for patients. He also noted its conspicuous presence in the manufacturing industry for the maintenance of machines, quality control, optimization of supply chains and prevention of machine failures; likewise, in robotics to develop advanced robots that perform broad range of tasks in more efficient ways than previously existed; and secure and improve efficiency, as well as develop block chain networks and applications. Abubakar Isah further explained that the transportation sector was not left out as AI is being deployed to improve transportation networks in various sectors of the nation’s economy and day-to-day execution of activities.
While stressing that data and stable power are key in performing crucial AI functions, the Director stated that deployment of Artificial Intelligence was not without challenges, particularly in a country like Nigeria where power supply, which is key to the algorithms or AI designs and operations intended to automate machines was grossly under supplied. He also cited availability of quality data strength in the respective geographical locations, cost of materials, ethnical concerns, which is the possibility of AI to create autonomous weapons and invade people’s privacy as other major setbacks in the deployment of AI.
The Director, of the University’s Tech-PIC, Professor Olutola Olubanjo corroborated that AI provides a platform for creative young people and researchers to turn their concepts into reality as it enables them to showcase their creativity, network with industry experts, and completely dive into the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Innovative Technology. According to him, Artificial Intelligence is the latest innovation in technology with a focus on the continuous advancement and development of AI systems, algorithms, and applications to create new solutions, improve existing processes, and enhance various aspects of human life and industry.
He said that AI innovation is highly relevant across limitless human endeavors such as, Climate Change, Healthcare, Business, Entertainment, Education, etc. He added that AI systems driven by research breakthroughs, increased computing power, and growing access to data which makes it more sophisticated and allows for expansion of impact on society, industry, and daily life continue to evolve rapidly, with both opportunities and challenges to address. He further noted that transforming ideas and innovations into successful enterprises within an academic setting require careful planning, collaboration and a deep understanding of both the academic and entrepreneurial landscapes.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development, Professor Sunday Oluyamo, commended Tech-PIC under the leadership of Professor Olubanjo for aligning with the vision of the University to become a world-class University of Technology and Centre for excellence in training, research and service delivery. She appreciated the partners, Opolo Global, Relen, and 8thGear Hub for collaborating with Tech-PIC to sustain the More Than Certificate programme over the years and prayed for its further sustenance.
According to her, the programme which started in 2018 is designed to motivate students to look beyond their reliance on certificates and create employment for themselves by tapping into the opportunities Artificial Intelligence offers in order to make waves globally.
Earlier, students of FUTA displayed their creativity and innovative ideas in robotics and other aspects of AI deployment. Competition finalists from the various Departments of the University were made to present and pitch their innovations for assessment before in-house judges. Creations such as Feedbot aimed at aiding people with upper limb amputation to feed independently; TouchNut for online and offline payments and withdrawals which is also currently been used to regulate entry and exit of students at the Albert Ilemobade Library of the University; Yanna App for creation of psychotherapy solution for people with mental illnesses; “Automatic Water Pumping Switch” for effectively managing pumping machines by turning them on and off based on water level in the tank to regulate wastage and overheating; Health and MediSlot Apps for Healthcare where patients can book appointments with doctors, get diagnosed and treatment, and prevent disease outbreak; YStick to prevent misplacement of properties especially for Asthmatic people; Knowl ink App to record students’ attendance to lectures, amongst others were on display for assessment.
The TouchNut Software by Adeniyi Daniel, a 400level student of the Department of Electrical Electronics Engineering, emerged first and was awarded a cash prize of one hundred and fifty thousand naira, while George Ayomiposi of Department of Urban and Regional Planning, creator of MediSlot App and Daramola Oluwafemi of the Department of Electrical Electronics Engineering and creator of FeedBot and the Automatic Pumping Switch won seventy-five thousand naira in second place. Other competitors were presented certificates of participation.
An alumnus of the University, Mr. Ogunmola Makanju, who is equally the CEO of RELEN Innovation also made a presentation showcasing his innovation of a smart headphone as a solution to the problem of learning in lecture theatres. He said the device is used to effectively lecture students; aid efficient listening, learning and relearning as it also possesses a record feature that allows students replay the classes after been taught. Students of Staff Secondary School, Federal University of Technology, Akure; Fiwasaye Girls’ Grammar School, Akure; Akure Muslim College and students of the University were major participants at the event.