The KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Radio Astronomy Economic Advancement, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (KREATE) recently hosted an Artificial Intelligence workshop series called “Artificial Intelligence for Everyone” in conjunction with UKZN’s Computer Science Discipline and the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC).
Funded by KREATE, the workshop’s title described its aim to reach all disciplines in the University, making Artificial Intelligence (AI) accessible using resources, tools and skills that everyone already possesses. KREATE is funded by the eThekwini Municipality with the view to gear up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) by implementing skills relevant to Big Data in the 4IR space.
‘The workshop series began at a basic level, where participants were taught the foundations of computers and basic programming skills, but quickly worked up to cover machine learning algorithms and using real-world data. This is the first step in achieving our goal of producing a pool of researchers who can work on big data using machine learning tools, and then use these skills in industry jobs they take up within the eThekwini region,’ said Professor Kavilan Moodley, ARC and KREATE Director.
Attendees were introduced to concepts – in manageable pieces – ranging from AI and its impact on society and possible impact on the future, to Machine Learning. From this series, guests attained knowledge of Machine Learning suitable for application in their own fields of study; be it research, industry, entrepreneurship, or recreational projects.
Students who attended the event were eager to learn more about AI. Said Ms Nada Nour on her participation in the workshops: ‘You don’t have to be a Computer Science student to understand the workshop. I encourage everyone who is in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science to take part, as well as those in other fields like Medicine, Law, Economics or the Health Sciences. It benefits all students because it starts from a beginner foundation right up to practical sessions on how you apply the theory learned.’
The series was open internally to UKZN postgraduate students and interested members of staff, with approximately 30 postgraduate students and academic staff attending. Presenters effectively taught Machine Learning concepts and models, with students being able to understand these because of the step-by-step guidance provided to them.
‘The Artificial Intelligence Workshop Series has been a terrific experience, and has brought many members of the University-community together,’ said Ms Yuvika Singh, Computer Science lecturer and KREATE Computational Data Scientist. ‘The series saw impressive, exceptionally talented individuals in attendance. The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science in conjunction with KREATE has been greatly honored to host the attendees of the series.’
Words and photograph: Londeka Makhoba