Attend UJ’s cloud-based debates on the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s effect on our society
As the end of the second decade of the 21st century approaches, a massive change is unfolding in South Africa – no less than in every other country. It is the Fourth Industrial Revolution and it has to do with the very way we think because it is about the way that machines think.
Machines, through the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI), have begun to do so much of our thinking for us. And that means we have no option but to do a great deal of thinking about them.
In response to this exciting challenge, and in recognising its responsibility as a technological and academic leader in Africa, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has devised a programme of web-based discussion panels that include academics, media, students, alumni and industry experts.
Fit for the future?
UJ is hosting a series of three “Cloudebates” (cloud-based debates) that will have real implications for education and employment. These debates are an integral part of the university’s commitment to interrogate whether we are fit for the future as a society and as individuals.
And because they are Cloudebates, everyone is invited – because everyone is affected. As AI becomes central to our way of living as a society, UJ understands that it is individuals who need to help guide and mould the process to ensure that benefits are balanced with equality, that needs are balanced with dignity, and that innovation is balanced with responsibility. It is with this understanding that UJ wants to provide a platform for the ongoing conversation.
The theme of the first Cloudebate is “The way tomorrow works: man vs machine”. The debate takes place from 6pm to 7.30pm on September 26, followed by two more scheduled for October and November.
While each Cloudebate will focus on a specific theme, the overriding subject is the effect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on society and our needs, our rights and our responses as individuals to what is shaping, and perhaps reshaping, our humanity.
Today’s questions for tomorrow’s world
With the increasingly rapid disruption that the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings, we need to react by thinking disruptively. We are creating a world in which taxi drivers, machine operators, miners and travel agents, even doctors and television match officials, might become obsolete.
Enabled by the centrality of information, this new world poses important questions about education, training, the market realities that young people face as they set out to earn a living, and employment itself.
In this new world of automated and autonomous services, manufacturing, and increasingly even medicine, art and creativity, UJ is not content just to lead in developing highly sophisticated and relevant AI tools on and for the African continent.
It is also determined to investigate, through its Cloudebates and other initiatives, the meaning of the increasing dominance of AI for society. The university is facing the challenges posed by the need to understand how we deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while contributing to it with new indigenous technologies.
By leading in research; pioneering technologies relevant to the developing needs of SA and the continent; and understanding the implications of the revolution taking place around us, UJ is reaffirming its commitment to creating tomorrow.
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This article was paid for by the University of Johannesburg.