The skills of the future (Part 3)

The skills of the future (Part 3)

__What is going to change the future of the world, “even more than electricity”?

Last night a friend rushed to tell me about a news segment she’d just seen on a Sunday news program called “60 Minutes” which broadcasts across America every Sunday evening. It was about amazing opportunities in what is broadly known as Artificial Intelligence or “AI”. Part of the show featured a Chinese techpreneur and venture capitalist called Kai-Fu Lee who said he believed AI would “change the world more than anything in the history of mankind, even more than electricity…” 

Let’s talk! 

Mr Lee went on to explain what one AI business called Face++ (not related to Facebook) could do. Maybe some of you have heard about it. If not, look it up. (My team did some quick research and discovered last night’s “60 Minutes” show was a re-run from earlier in 2019 so I’ll share the full transcripts with you below).

On the show, Mr Lee said something I agree with, and I want you to focus on the opportunity here, not the threat: “Today artificial intelligence is not as good as you hope, and not as bad as you fear…”

He told the 60 Minutes interviewer that his venture capital firm has already funded more than 50 AI start-ups with about 10 $1bn start-ups, including a few $10bn dollar companies…Wow! (You can Google yourself what he did before being a VC!)

What do you see?

Senior class, do your homework on “Deep learning” and share some feedback here. Try not to make it too complicated. 

__How is deep learning already being used in the world? I will give you one hint: It is a key technology behind “driverless cars.”

This may sound like #SuperSenior class subject matter, but this is an opportunity for many to jump ahead of the pack and some of you eventually to join the ranks of those billionaires Mr Lee referred to in his interview, no doubt led by techpreneurs who did not panic or get fearful of emerging “disruptive” technologies but rather… you fill in the rest.

You might still be very young and that’s great. You know many programmers are self-taught so don’t start saying this or that is not available to you to study. You can get yourself started at a Coding School like Muzinda Hub that I wrote about last week. It’s a new world out there!

Whoever we are, chances are we need to re-skill as I’ve written before, because technology is moving fast. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway, all over the world…

That’s one reason why this same story about AI featured twice in the past several months on one of America’s top news programs! AI will definitely change the way people live and work, all over the world. Who can give me a list of five changes you’ve noticed? Don’t get left behind.

“What skills do I need?” you might ask. Good question. We started the series talking about coding and some other critical thinking skills. Coding is rather like learning the alphabet and how to spell in different languages, or creating a recipe that tells a computer what to do. Now many of you are ready to go to the next level.

A few questions to get you started on this new skill of the future:

# What is “machine learning”?
# What is “deep learning”?
# What is the difference between “deep learning” and “machine learning”?
# Why is access to high quality data so important in machine learning and deep learning?
# Why is the field of “data science” so exciting?

This AI is deep stuff. You have to know about it. Just get yourself started to learn more about it now, if you haven’t already, including taking online courses.

It’s one of those revolutionary changes in the world that require a mindset change, not just as an entrepreneur, but as a parent and policymaker, too.

Let us not waste time debating “if or when,” let’s get to how and now!

I’ll tell you more about another of our ventures in this space in my next post.

To be continued. . .

Image credit: Nigerian robotics engineer, Silas Adenkule. From the Facebook page of the company he co-founded, Reach Robotics.

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

17 Replies to “The skills of the future (Part 3)”

  1. Afterthought 4.

    #ShoutOut to Nigerian Techpreneur Silas Adekunle, co-founder and CEO of Reach Robotics!

    You really can’t start too young… STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) teaching helps prepare kids learn the skills of the future…

    The story goes that when he was about nine years old, young Silas Adekunle started out making little “robots” at his home in Nigeria. He taught himself along the way with Legos and YouTube videos but then went on to get a degree in robotics from a UK university.

    Silas’ very first robot, he said, “was basically this motor with two batteries stuck to the side, and it would kind of buzz around and kind of shake around, and I would add little steering legs to it, to get it to move in a certain direction. So, you learn a little from there.”

    Do some Googling yourself and be inspired.

  2. #Shout Out!

    Twisha Molapo writes,

    This is not only amazing but inspiring, who not to create the future of Africa but us and now. Captain Phatsima is a true pioneer for STEM progression in Botswana especially for young girls and women. A true leader is one that develops and empowers others to be able to carry out the vision even when they aren’t there. You and your team are doing a great work Dr. Strive and the beauty of that is no one will ever take away the seed you have planted in the lives you have impacted. This seed will sprout and grow, it will bear fruit in due season. I will be volunteering to become a trainer for Muzinda Hub because I want to be part of this movement. For the past year, I have been dedicating my Thursdays to teaching ICT at a local school in one of the villages in the greater Gaborone area. May I say it has been a true privilege to see how children enjoy learning and applying technology in their lives. Their curiosity has truly proven that they are more than ready to be developed further in STEM

  3. Wuni Bitrus writes [edited]

    For Africa to catch up with the rest of the world and stay relevant, we must as a necessity be earlier adopters of these technologies at its infancy. We must be willing to face the risks and damn the consequences to become leaders in these industry. Thankfully the skills can be picked up and learnt without the traditional bottlenecks.

    My reply,
    You are so right!
    Many of the people on this platform were not there when the Mobile Phone opportunity, that ushered people like me into a great new industry, emerged.
    I saw it immediately, and moved to position myself with everything I had.
    I went into Mobile Phones at its infancy, when licenses were $1000!

    Then came the Internet and eCommerce revolution, and those who saw it [like Koos Bekker at Naspers in SA, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Tony Ma, Larry Page] jumped in, much as I had done over mobile phones.

    Now it is AI!

    A young man called me recently and told me he wanted me to partner with him for a mobile business in his country.
    “This is not for you. That was 25 years ago, when I was a young man. You need to look for opportunities that propel you into AI, if you are tech minded.”
    He was deeply disappointed because many people only pursue things when they see that others have made money.
    That is why you find thousands of people buying Kombis that spend the day parked!

  4. #Pause:
    AI is here already!

    To take advantage of AI, you do not have to change your business area. AI is coming to EVERY business area, and industry.
    I’m excited about AI in agriculture and will soon launch my first big AgriTech venture which uses AI. It will help millions of Small Farmers in Africa.

    It is after all a technology that touches every single activity.
    Start now to research what AI is and is not [yet].
    Already you are engaging with AI, every day, but you probably do not yet even know it!
    This will change your business, but to make money; then you have to begin to get understanding.

  5. #Pause:
    The other day someone showed me an AI application which will make it impossible for a government to have “Ghost workers” on its payroll.
    “Wow”! I thought. “This will make us big money, and save our countries millions.”
    I’m going to put those criminals who take a pay check on tax payer’s money out of business, and I’m going to use AI to catch them!

    You can use AI and it’s twin, Blockchain to go after corruption. You will make a lot of money fighting corruption.

    Vaya Logistics has been testing service which makes it impossible for a driver of a commercial vehicle to misuse the vehicle. It uses AI, and it a real “spy”!

  6. Wanderley Ribeiro writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa we can’t ignore the fact that AI will indeed take the job of many people as it is already happening with IBM Watson.

    But, it takes us to another subject which I can see in many if not all of your posts “new skills”.

    The education and learning schemes that we know will not last longer. There are many job functions that won’t exist in 10 years from now, what skills we require to be competitive? Big data is part of the answer.

    My reply,
    When Bill Gates introduced desktop computers, people wrote articles saying millions of women would lose their jobs, if there was no need for typists!
    True, there are no typists and “typing pool jobs” anywhere except perhaps North Korea!
    So what happened to all those millions of typists?
    Well the new technology eliminated a sexist [stupid job], and young women went on to do better jobs which needed their minds and not stereotypes.

    When the car first appeared in America, there were more than 20m horse, and each created a job for more than 50m people. Some alarmists sounded calls to stop this “destruction of jobs”!
    So what happened?
    New industries create new types of jobs, and there will always be more jobs.
    AI will create millions of new types of jobs we have not even imagined today.

  7. #Pause:
    Social Media is a business!

    Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Baidu, Weechat, have all one thing in common~ they are businesses!
    Young entrepreneurs “saw” a new technology, and they used it to create an industry that did not exist.
    This new industry added billions of dollars in additional GDP to the economies of the US, and China.
    In Africa we joined these platforms in our millions, as consumers. As a result we did not generate significant GDP for our countries.

    When a new technology emerges we must seize the entrepreneurial opportunities.

    The challenge to African entrepreneurs is to seize these new technologies and to develop services using them, that the world has never seen, or to @Fastfollow immediately.
    It is sad that we never replied to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
    Don’t let it happen with AI.
    AI will create enterprises that will be bigger than entire national economies today!

    When I saw mobile phones, I @Fast Followed to create Econet, and became one of the few Africans to actually set up a business in this new industry.

    When I saw M-PESA and the emergence of Fintech, I @Fast Followed to create Cassava Fintech.

    When I saw Uber, I @Fastfollowed to create Vaya.

    Soon, I will launch my first Social Media platform based on a Chinese platform, which we have @Fast Follow.

    What are you “seeing”?

    The entrepreneur does not position to consume, but to @Fast Follow!
    If you are new to the platform go back and study the material I did on @Fast Follow.
    Rapid fire!

  8. Progress Ibrahim writes,

    “In 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen read in New York Times’ article about the invention of a microprocessor chip called Altair 880.

    In the Road Ahead Bill Gates said “the era of the mainframe computer is over that we are entering into the age of microcomputer…that people need to write software for the microcomputer.

    This was how Microsoft was founded. Microsoft is a company that provide softwares for the microcomputer industry.

    They saw the trend of the computer technology industry and they seize the opportunity.

    This is exactly what’s happening in Artificial Intelligence technology (AI). We need to move fast and act now however little”

    Except from #3SRULES.

    We need this book to really understand how these great entrepreneurs started out, how their business models work, their bad experiences and their strategies to adopt.

    Get the book here:



    My reply,
    You get it completely!
    ~In AI there is a new type of “software” which will be needed.
    ~There is a new kind of computer to replace the current generation of laptops, smartphones, iPads. It will run on this new type of software.
    These computers will combine all the capacity of everything that went before them:
    So powerful that eventually they will walk and talk but they will still be computers~machines built by men!

    The new “Bill Gates” will writes the software for this type of computer.

    The new “Steve Jobs” will build the new generation of computers that will emerge.

    The new “Jack Ma” will drive platforms that will combine everything in e-commerce and more!

    We call this new Age of computing AI.

    What will you be doing?

  9. #Pause:

    AI in action!

    Last year when I visited Israel, I was shown a typical AI service that is already available:
    A young man flew his drone over a field belonging to a small rural farmer. The drone was taking pictures, just like at a wedding!

    Next the guy uploaded the pictures to a smartphone.

    A few minutes later he got back information:
    “The crops did not have enough nutrients. There was also an invasion of worms. Immediate measures were proposed. The farmer and all his colleagues in the district were advised, as was government.
    Everyone was on the move to deal with the situation.”

    How was all this possible?

  10. #Today’s MLE:

    ~Stay out of politics!

    Using political power to advance entrepreneurship is not entrepreneurship.

    I have known some highly gifted entrepreneurs in the last 33 years who had powerful relatives and friends, and they used them to get business. For a while it seemed very well, and they soared high, making lots of money. Unfortunately when there is the inevitable change of power, it is remarkable to observe how quickly they fall!
    Don’t envy people who get wealthy through the use of political power, even if it goes on for decades. They will eventually lose everything.

  11. Ezeunara Felix writes,

    yes you are righr Dr. Strive, but what if one has the mind to fast follow but without the required tools.
    example, funding and Expertise knowledge.
    As in the case of ai, how can that person meet up to this revolutionary demands.

    My reply,
    These are good questions you ask.
    They will only be answered for a successful outcome when you address them to the only entrepreneur that matters: YOU!
    If YOU don’t answer these questions [as difficult as they are, some will answer them], then you will be a consumer of what technologies and services emerge.

  12. Ugochukwu Promise writes,

    Pa strive. Ndewo! ( Traditional greetings for an elder in Igbo language). I am the Co founder of Mupo, a waste mgt company that enables people make money from selling their recyclable wastes. Big data is necessary for AI as Machines need to be able to collate enough data to be able to accurately predict and interpret the output of a set of data. In my home country, most of the hospitals still use traditional methods to check for patient’s data when the world has far evolved. Data science will reshape technology in a new dimension. I am set for an MSC in Data Science at Chicago inst. Of Tech, Jan 2020. Pa strive, I am fiercely ready to combine the work load from my startup and the MSC In data as long as I #skillup for the future. Thanks for your mentorship. #DataScienceisFireinmybones!

    My reply,
    The opportunity to study Data Science at MSc level shows you are extremely gifted. When you finish in Chicago, you will be offered some of the best paying positions in Silicon Valley. Don’t forget your homeland Africa, and find ways to contribute to it, even from Silicon Valley.

  13. #Pause:
    It is important for those of us who are older to also position ourselves to understand AI:

    Last week when I was in Rwanda for a wedding, I met with a dear friend Makhtar Diop, who happens to be one of the most senior people at the World Bank [Vice President Infrastructure]. We had time for a cup of coffee to catch up.
    Guess what we discussed?
    #Artificial Intelligence [AI].
    Makhtar told me he had recently done a university course on AI.
    His parting words:
    “My brother, this is very, very serious. Do everything to get the brothers and sisters on the continent to get their minds around AI.”

    Whilst at the hotel, another of my favorite Ministers in Africa, dropped bye with a small team for a “chat”. As we walked I noticed the ICT Minister, Hon Paula Ingabire had a book amongst her papers.
    You guessed it!
    It was a book on AI.

    As a policy maker, Minister, or even President of a country, you have to engage with all your understanding on these matters.

    “My brother, this is very, very serious. Do everything to get the brothers and sisters on the continent to get their minds around AI.”

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