Moustapha Cisse
Jul 12, 2018 · 4 min read

Introducing the African Master’s of Machine Intelligence at AIMS

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The Baobab Tree, symbol of knowledge and wisdom

Machine Intelligence (MI) is revolutionizing critical aspects of our lives. It enhances medical diagnosis, speeds industrial processes and enables scientific discoveries. MI will allow us to usefully gather and analyze vast datasets and extract insights to improve decision making and public policy in diverse areas from education and health to transport, agriculture and finance. Economists now call MI a General Purpose Technology to emphasize its transformative power over many sectors.

Over the past decade, thanks to large public and private investments, MI has progressed rapidly in both basic research and the development of a vast array of applications. However, the talent pool currently advancing MI is modest and unrepresentative of the diversity of our world, leaving us less capable of facing global challenges. The vast majority of active MI researchers and practitioners are in North America, Europe, and Asia while large regions, including Africa, are hardly represented. We have already seen how algorithmic biases can lead to inadvertent discrimination against large sections of the world’s population. Furthermore, the lack of MI researchers from Africa means that many opportunities to use MI to create a better and more stable world are being missed. The challenges we choose to work on are strongly influenced by our backgrounds and our environment. If Africa continues to be bypassed by MI, a rare opportunity to alleviate global social and economic disparities will be missed.

Conversely, creating an effective, globally connected community of MI practitioners in Africa will reduce the technology gap, strengthen Africa’s economies and enable better governance. Fortunately, many of the ingredients are already in place: (1) Africa is home to the youngest and fastest growing population on earth. Currently, 60 percent of Africans are under 25 (compared to 32 percent in North America). This is a vast pool of talent whose enthusiasm for MI is well illustrated by the success of the Black in AI organization and summer schools such as Data Science Africa (DSA) and Deep Learning Indaba. (2) The ideal vehicle already exists. The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a network of centers of excellence spanning the African continent. AIMS has been recruiting and training Africa’s top graduates in maths, science and engineering for the past 15 years. (3) For the machine learning community, this is a great chance to make an impact on a global scale and for years to come. For all these reasons, we are pleased to be launching the continent’s flagship MI program: the African Masters of Machine Intelligence, or, AMMI at AIMS.

AMMI will be a one-year intensive Master’s program. It will provide brilliant young Africans with state-of-the-art training in machine learning and its applications. AMMI will open the doors to doing world-class research and to building new technologies. Every course on AMMI will be lectured by leading experts, from prestigious international institutions. We are indebted to them for their unequivocal enthusiasm and involvement. We likewise offer our profound thanks to Facebook and Google, whose sponsorship and partnership are making AMMI possible.

AMMI will commence at AIMS Rwanda this September. We plan to launch AMMI in other African countries in the future, spreading its impact across the continent. We expect a significant part of the first AMMI cohort to continue on to PhD study or to join the best industrial and public R&D labs, in Africa and beyond. They will be the pioneers of an ecosystem of African machine intelligence scientists bringing a fresh perspective to the global scientific community and achieving crucial breakthroughs. In the long term, we expect AMMI graduates to make enormous contributions to their home countries and continent by delivering technological solutions which improve agriculture, education and healthcare and which boost industry, employment and economic growth. We invite all the interested students to apply by sending a resume, transcripts and a cover letter at

By demonstrating the benefits of AI in Africa, AMMI will help to make AI a transformative instrument for the good of humanity, everywhere.

Moustapha Cisse, PhD

Professor of Machine Learning AIMS

Founder and Director of AMMI

Lead Google AI center Accra, Ghana

Prince Osei, PhD

Director of Quantum Leap Africa

African Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Neil Turok, PhD

Director of Perimeter Institute

Founder and Chair of Board AIMS

Confirmed Lecturers: Anima Anandkumar (Amazon/Caltech), Francis Bach (ENS/INRIA), Yoshua (MILA/U.Montreal), Samy Bengio (Google AI), Olivier Bousquet (Google AI), Antoine Bordes (FAIR), Kyunghyun Cho (NYU), Moustapha Cisse (Google AI/AIMS), Marc Deisenroth (Imperial College), Emmanuel Dupoux (ENS/DeepMind), Francois Fleuret (IDIAP), Timnit Gebru (MSR), Georgia Gkioxari (FAIR), Robert Gower (Telecom-Paristech), Edouard Grave (FAIR), Armand Joulin (FAIR), Hugo Larochelle (Google AI), Yann Lecun (FAIR/NYU), Laurens v.d. Maaten (FAIR), Ifeoma Nwogu (Rochester Institute of Technology), Guillaume Obozinski (Ecole des Ponts), Joelle Pineau (FAIR/McGill), Toniann Pitassi (U.Toronto), Benjamin Rosman (U. Witswatersrand), Tara Sainath (Google AI), Mark Schmidt (UBC), Nicolas Usunier (FAIR), Jean Philippe Vert (Institut Curie/ENS), Richard Zemel (U.Toronto/Vector Institute).

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