Collaborating Authors


Eden deploys drone technology to help plant one tree at a time


Helping people to help the environment is the core mission at Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit that began its work in Ethiopia in 2004, according to the organisation's director of forest monitoring and evaluation Ezra Neale. "A lot of trees are being cut down without any alternatives and local communities are turning towards the land … [and] it creates this endless poverty cycle for the environment and communities; it's all interlinked," he said. "But there's this amazing ability to transform it through planting trees by directly employing and training people to plant trees, totally transforming their lives through a steady income … reinvesting in their community." These days the Los Angeles-based organisation has expanded operations to eight different countries -- Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, and Central America -- and has planted more than 330 million trees. This year alone, the company aims to plant over 120 million trees.

Loon's balloon-powered internet service is live in Kenya


A bit later than expected, Loon has finally launched its balloon-powered 4G internet service in Kenya. Through a partnership with Telkom Kenya, the balloons have served 35,000 customers and are covering about 50,000 square kilometres. Loon has been used to make voice and video calls, browse the web, email, text, access WhatsApp and stream YouTube. Loon plans to use a fleet of about 35 balloons in Kenya, and it describes the system as a "carefully choreographed and orchestrated balloon dance." At any given time, a balloon might be actively serving users, operating as a link in the mesh network to beam internet to other vehicles or repositioning itself via machine learning algorithms.

How Ethical Is Your AI?


Wendy Gonzalez, interim CEO of Samasource, poses with Agents in Nairobi, Kenya. Samasource employees ... [ ] young Kenyans and Ugandans to work in the AI supply chain, upskilling them up for a career in technology. Conscious consumers demand fair-trade when it comes to products like coffee, and when it's quality coffee, they are even willing to pay more for it. When it comes to our technology products though, many consumers don't even know that "fair-trade" is possible. Behind many acts of AI "magic," there is a human in the loop.

GPS collars for lions and cheetahs: How IoT and open source are protecting rare animals


Smart Parks is a social enterprise that provides technology solutions for wildlife protection. The Internet of Things (IoT) now offers sophisticated ways of safeguarding wildlife: communication networks can cover wild places; sensors can monitor animals, humans and equipment within them in (near) real time, and control centres can collate multiple data streams, increasingly with the aid of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), leading to timely management interventions. Smart Parks is a Netherlands/UK-based social enterprise that provides technology solutions for wildlife protection, with a focus on keystone species that are essential to maintaining the diversity and functionality of ecological communities (grey wolves in Yellowstone, for example, or wildebeest in the Serengeti). "We started three years ago on a small scale in Mkomazi, Tanzania where we were the first to put LoRa sensors inside the horn of a black rhino," Smart Parks co-founder Laurens de Groot told ZDNet. "Since then, we have built Smart Parks in Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, India, Zambia, Namibia and the Netherlands. We are working with partners such as African Parks, Peace Parks, WWF and many others. We've also supplied our sensor technology to several existing parks with their own LoRaWAN-infrastructure, such as Hluhluwe Imfolozi in South Africa. At the moment we have over seventy rhinos and hundreds of other species under our Smart Parks supervision."

The Pandemic Brings Some African Tech Workers Luxe Lodging


Many of her neighbors have fallen on hard times since Covid-19 shut the city last month, but she's been lifted into the lap of luxury. Akol, who is 28, works for Samasource, a company that labels images and other data for companies such as Google, creating the feedstock for artificial intelligence projects like self-driving cars. She's the main breadwinner in the busy Nairobi apartment she shares with her 7-year-old son and her two brothers, ages 8 and 24. But Akol hasn't seen her family or apartment for around a month because, like most of Samasource's Nairobi staff, she now lives and works from a resort hotel. Her window at the four-star Ole Sereni overlooks the grassy plains of Nairobi National Park--a major change from the company's open-plan office next to a freeway.

Artificial intelligence: The new power dynamic of today


A new industrial revolution is taking place now and AI (AI) is transforming countries economically. The answer to the question of who is ahead and who is behind is determined by the new economic model based on this AI. Dozens of countries, from China to the U.S., from Finland to Kenya, are making significant investments in the area. It should be noted that by 2030, AI studies will generate a gross domestic product (GDP) greater than the current size of the Chinese economy ($15 trillion). From this new economy, China will generate nearly $7 trillion, the U.S. $3.7 trillion, Northern Europe $1.8 trillion, Africa-Oceania $1.2 trillion, the rest of Asia $0.9 trillion and Latin America $0.5 trillion.

BB_Evac: Fast Location-Sensitive Behavior-Based Building Evacuation Artificial Intelligence

Prime examples, include the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. Other buildings that needed evacuation during terror attacks include the Westfield Mall in Kenya, and the Taj and Oberoi Hotels in Mumbai. In November 2015, at least two major airports (London and Miami) had to be partly evacuated. These situations have led to the development of work on building evacuation models in both the operations research [1, 2, 3] and AI communities [4, 5, 6]. Yet, all of these works have been based on the assumption that in an emergency, people will do what they are told. However, if you are in a building at location L and a fire or terrorist attack or earthquake occurs and you are told to move along a given route to an exit e that you know is further away than the nearest exit e ′, would you do so? Often, the answer is no. Past works on building evacuations assume people will do what they are told and that they will not select mechanisms that are individually optimal, but globally sub-optimal. There is a long history of work in firefighting and emergency response communities on understanding human behavior in such emergencies.

Ugandan medics deploy AI to stop women dying after childbirth


NAIROBI, Jan 31 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ugandan doctors are giving new mothers artificial intelligence-enabled devices to remotely monitor their health in a first-of-its-kind study aiming to curb thousands of preventable maternal deaths across Africa, medics and developers said. Doctors at Mbarara Hospital in western Uganda will give devices to more than 1,000 women who have undergone caesarean section births to wear on their upper arms at all times. Algorithms detect at-risk cases and alert doctors. Joseph Ngonzi from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, which is conducting the study, said it would help "improve monitoring in a resource-constrained environment". The World Health Organization says almost 300,000 women worldwide die annually from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth - that's more than 800 women every day.

Nations dawdle on agreeing rules to control 'killer robots' in future wars - Reuters


NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Countries are rapidly developing "killer robots" - machines with artificial intelligence (AI) that independently kill - but are moving at a snail's pace on agreeing global rules over their use in future wars, warn technology and human rights experts. From drones and missiles to tanks and submarines, semi-autonomous weapons systems have been used for decades to eliminate targets in modern day warfare - but they all have human supervision. Nations such as the United States, Russia and Israel are now investing in developing lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) which can identify, target, and kill a person all on their own - but to date there are no international laws governing their use. "Some kind of human control is necessary ... Only humans can make context-specific judgements of distinction, proportionality and precautions in combat," said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).