Addressing Data Scarcity in Africa: Charlette N’Guessan Empowers Women in AI

African continent, Charlette N'Guessan, tackling data scarcity, The comma-separated tags from the given title are: Women in AI

Title: Women Making Waves in AI: Insights from Charlette N’Guessan

In recent years, the field of artificial intelligence (AI) has gained significant attention due to its potential to revolutionize various industries. However, it often remains male-dominated, with women being underrepresented in key roles. In an effort to highlight the contributions made by women in the AI space, TechCrunch has initiated a series of interviews with remarkable female professionals driving the AI revolution. One such individual is Charlette N’Guessan, the Data Solutions and Ecosystem Lead at Amini, a deep tech startup focusing on addressing data scarcity in Africa and the global South by leveraging space technology and AI.

N’Guessan is a co-founder of Bace API, a secure identity verification system that utilizes AI-powered facial recognition technology to tackle online identity fraud while addressing facial recognition biases in the African context. She also serves as an AI expert consultant at the African Union High-Level Panel on Emerging Technologies, contributing to the AU-AI continental strategy for Africa’s socio-economic development. Her accomplishments and insights shed light on her journey in the AI field, navigating a male-dominated industry, and the pressing issues facing AI as it continues to evolve.

The Journey to AI:
N’Guessan’s passion for leveraging technology to make a positive impact on communities led her to relocate to Ghana in 2017 and embark on a tech entrepreneurial journey. While conducting market research, she and her co-founders identified the challenge of online identity fraud in the financial sector. This led them to develop Bace API, an AI-driven solution for financial institutions to verify the identities of their online clients and establish trust in remote areas. This marked N’Guessan’s initial foray into the AI industry. Although their product was ultimately discontinued due to challenges, the experience fueled her determination to continue working in the AI field.

The Power of AI:
One of the driving forces behind N’Guessan’s attraction to AI is its immense potential in solving societal problems. Understanding the technology’s capabilities to address a wide range of issues ignited her passion for AI. She believes that AI has the power to reshape industries and improve the lives of individuals. This recognition of AI’s transformative power motivates her to continue her work in the field.

Overcoming Challenges in a Male-Dominated Industry:
N’Guessan acknowledges the challenges faced by women in the male-dominated tech and AI industries. She attributes these challenges to societal biases and gender stereotypes that have been nurtured over time. Women often encounter skepticism, being questioned about their suitability for the industry. However, she emphasizes the importance of challenging these stereotypes and providing equal opportunities and leadership positions for women in AI. By encouraging girls to study science and pursue careers in AI, she believes there will be a significant shift in the gender balance within the industry.

Advice for Women in AI:
In order to succeed in the AI field, N’Guessan advises women to focus on continuous learning and acquire the necessary skills. Recognizing that women may face heightened scrutiny of their capabilities, she emphasizes the importance of boosting confidence through skill development. Investing in skills not only enhances professional growth but also fosters resilience in the face of challenges.

Pressing Issues in AI Evolution:
As AI continues to advance, there are several pressing issues that need to be addressed. One such challenge is articulating the short-term and long-term impacts of AI on humans. Uncertainty surrounding emerging technologies has prompted global conversations about the ethical implications of AI. While AI has shown tremendous potential in various industries, biases and hallucinations within AI models raise concerns about its reliability and impact on society. Questions about the role of humans in the AI loop, the regulatory framework for AI, AI responsibility, and accountability remain largely unanswered.

Awareness for AI Users:
N’Guessan emphasizes the importance of understanding AI technology for all users. She highlights that individuals interact with AI solutions in various ways and should be curious about the extent of control they have over their data. Data privacy and security should be a priority when considering AI solutions. Additionally, users should be cautious about generative AI content, verifying its authenticity before sharing it to avoid contributing to the spread of false information. Lastly, N’Guessan warns against becoming overly dependent on AI tools, as inaccurate outcomes or biases may have unintended consequences on mental health.

Building Responsible AI:
Building responsible AI requires careful consideration of various factors. In her role as an AI expert consultant, N’Guessan has contributed to drafting the AU-AI continental strategy, emphasizing key principles to build responsible AI for the African market. Contextual awareness, accessibility, accountability, explainability, and data privacy and safety are crucial aspects to be considered in the development of AI solutions. By adhering to these principles, AI developers can ensure that their technologies are inclusive, ethical, and deliver genuine value to users.

Encouraging Investor Responsibility in AI:
Investors play a crucial role in driving responsible AI development. N’Guessan suggests that an ethical framework should be a mandatory requirement for AI companies seeking investment. However, many investors lack knowledge and understanding of AI, resulting in a limited assessment of the risks associated with AI products. To address this, investors should partner with industry experts to gain a deeper understanding of the technical aspects and potential impact of AI solutions. This comprehensive evaluation will help identify responsible AI initiatives with the potential for long-term success.

Charlette N’Guessan’s journey in the AI field reflects the determination and passion of women making their mark in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Her insights shed light on the challenges faced by women in AI and the pressing issues that AI as a technology must address to ensure a responsible and inclusive future. By continuing to encourage women to pursue careers in AI, fostering skill development, and embracing ethical practices, the industry can create a more balanced and impactful future. The contributions made by women like N’Guessan pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse AI landscape.

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