One hundred million dollars of investment in 10 years to support Africa in its path of growth and development. These are the main numbers of Project Lucy, created and promoted by computer giant IBM that has decided to put ‘Watson’, its first cognitive computer, at the service of the African continent, in addition to the experience and expertise of its researchers.
For the past decade Africa has been experiencing a phase of profound social and economic change. The strong GDP growth and the wide availability of natural resources predict it to be a future protagonist in the world’s economy. The development is accompanied however by huge social challenges. The increase in population, the water shortages, a mortality rate that is still very high, the climate change and its consequences on agriculture, these are all factors that jeopardize the materialisation of a truly equitable and inclusive growth. IBM believes that its technology can help Africa to live this “news deal” in the best possible way, making the most of the available potential.
Lucy: la rivoluzione pensata dall’IBM. Project Lucy symbolically takes its name from the primate discovered in Africa in 1974 and considered the first hominid in history. At the heart of the initiative there is Watson, the first cognitive computing system designed by IBM, able to learn from human language, store, process and correlate large amounts of data and highlight innovative connections between them.
According to Kamal Bhattacharya, vice president of IBM Research Africa,
“with the ability to learn from emerging models and discover new correlations, the cognitive abilities of Watson have the enormous potential to help Africa achieve in the next two decades what current developed markets achieved in two centuries.“
In Africa, the American company, along with their business and academics partners, will use Watson and the related cognitive technologies to analyze the big data available to develop commercially viable solutions to the big challenges of the continent. They will range through all policy and problematic areas: from health to education, from water management to sanitation, from agriculture to human mobility.
A complex analysis that will be put in the system, according to the plans of IBM, with the creation of a new pan-African Center of Excellence, for the Data-Driven Development (CEED), and three Innovation Centers, in Lagos (Nigeria), Casablanca (Morocco) and Johannesburg (South Africa).