Google, Facebook Aim To Fix AI Diversity Issue By Funding African Machine Intelligence Course

SHANGHAI, CHINA – JULY 04: An AI robot by CloudMinds is on display on the opening day of the China International Robot Show 2018 (CIROS 2018) on July 4, 2018 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Tang Yanjun/China News Service/VCG)

Google and Facebook are funding a machine intelligence masters course in Africa as part of an effort to fix the industry’s diversity problem.

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) will launch the “African Masters in Machine Intelligence (AMMI)” course in Rwanda in September, before looking to roll it out to other African nations. 

AMMI will be a one year course that will train young Africans in machine learning and its applications, according to a blog post on Medium by Moustapha Cisse, who is the founder and director of the course. Cisse added that Facebook and Google’s sponsorship and partnership are making AMMI possible.

Facebook said it will provide $4 million in funding and staff lecturers over several years, while Google is also contributing resources.

Our investment and engagement in AIMS is part of our commitment to the creation of a more diverse talent pipeline,” Facebook Research wrote in a blog post on July 31. “It is notable that the talent pool currently actively researching this space has remained relatively small and, importantly, is unrepresentative of the diversity of our world in terms of ethnic representation as well as geographic, economic and cultural background.” 

Jeff Dean, head of Google AI, wrote on Twitter: “I’m very excited to have Google and Facebook come together to help fund this new Masters program at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).”

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

I cover artificial intelligence and Google DeepMind. In previous roles I’ve written about tech policy, European startups, the gig economy, and venture capital. Today I’m a freelance journalist and I’m also working on a book about Google DeepMind. Previously I was a senior te…

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