The first artificial intelligence-based (--AI--) symptom-assessment application to be made available in Swahili has been launched today, unlocking access to health information and advice for more than 100 million people seeking healthcare in East Africa.-- The app, developed by Ada Health, combines a world-class medical knowledge database with intelligent reasoning technology to help users understand what might be causing their symptoms, as well as providing localized guidance about what they should do next. In doing so, the app aims to empower patients to make informed decisions about their own health, while also complementing and supporting existing healthcare services, doctors and clinics.-- Globally, four billion people - more than half the world--s population - lack access to basic health services, with the disadvantages of this global health challenge often disproportionately experienced by people in low- and middle-income countries. East Africa is a region that is acutely affected by this issue.
As pressures on healthcare systems intensify, an increasing number of consumers are turning to the use of symptom checkers in the search for fast answers – or guidance – to any concerns that they may have. But although these tools have become popular, questions around their accuracy, and not only, are plaguing the digital health space. Last week, at Slush, Ada Health cofounder and chief medical officer Claire Novorol spoke to Wired UK's Victoria Turk about the Berlin-headquartered company's approach to building trust in its AI-powered chatbot. "Absolutely key, first of all, is the quality of the product," Novorol told the audience. "So what we've always focused on from the very beginning, eight years ago now actually, is the quality of the core product, the foundation of everything that we do, and that's our knowledge base, our reasoning engine, and how it works, the clinical quality of that, accuracy, safety."
Google has launched a new Lacuna Fund which is the world's first collaborative nonprofit effort to directly address the missing labeled data in the field of languages to health and agriculture and more. There is currently a lack of relevant, labeled data to represent and address the challenges that face much of the world's population. "To help close this gap, Google.org is making a $2.5 million grant alongside The Rockefeller Foundation, Canada's International Development Resource Center (IDRC) and Germany's GiZ FAIR Forward to launch Lacuna Fund," said Daphne Luong, Director, Google AI. The fund aims to unlock the power of machine learning by providing data scientists, researchers, and social entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income communities around the world with resources to produce labeled datasets that address urgent problems, Google said in a statement this week. Machine learning has shown enormous promise for social good, whether in helping respond to global health pandemics or reach citizens before natural disasters hit.
"Hakuna matata" may very well be the only Swahili phrase that many people outside of East Africa have ever heard (thanks, Lion King), but a 4-foot-tall humanoid robot named Pepper is working to change that. The National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.--part of the Smithsonian Institution's network--is using Pepper to explain the meaning of Swahili words and phrases that appear in its artworks. The Smithsonian says it's the first museum complex in the world to use this particular robot, which was developed by SoftBank Robotics in 2014, made available to Japanese consumers in 2015, and later released to a wider market. Considered to be the world's first robot capable of reading emotions, Pepper is multi-talented. He has already found a home in several different Smithsonian sites, where he interacts with visitors, answers questions, plays games, tells stories, and even dances.
KINSHASA – "I haven't once spoken my mother tongue Kilokele in the 62 years I've lived in Kinshasa. None of my nine children speak it," says Charles Tongohala. Tongohala's native tongue is one of 450 spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a sprawling nation of 71 million people whose lingos -- almost all of them spoken, not written -- account for 9 percent of the world's 5,000 languages. He was a boy when he moved to the capital from a northeastern village that is home to the Lokele fisher people, who live along the banks of the giant Congo River and speak Kilokele. Now retired, Tongohala worked for Congo's river transport company.