Emerging technologies and emerging problems

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[this is still work in progress…]

Africa always fills my heart with wonder and adventure. It gives it a little twingle as I see the vast pool of opportunities it offers.

I for STEM Zone Nigeria

This is why it was a pleasure of going live on Instagram for STEM Zone Nigeria yesterday after an invitation by the fearless Temitope Bolaji Adeniyi. I was supposed to talk about ‘World changing tides: Artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies’ but we covered much more than that. Here is the gist of our 1-hour conversation.

Emerging Problems

I see a trend on my LinkedIn feed in the interests of my fellow data scientists (and data scientists to be). Most start their posts with ‘This problem is fun to solve…‘, or ‘An interesting problem that I read about …‘. Fun and interesting all mean the following in this context: ‘I learned something technical which made my brain work hard and now I feel concent with what I have learned’. This is the feeling of accomplishment because your brain now understands the inner workings on deep learning, or survival analysis, you know what problems are solved with these algorithms and you know how to apply them successfully in the future. I have exerienced this more times than I can ever count, and yet I do not belive that fun and interesting are the only internal drivers for progress we posses.

I always like to go one step further.

I shifted from learning a new technology because it has become popular and I needed to keep my tech skills on the top of my game so I could compete on the job market to I needed to learn a new skill/or technology/ because I needed it to solve the problems I wanted to solve.

As a data scientist, I have chosen to dedicate my work mainly on using my valuable skills to help solve environmental and social challenges instead of chasing glory by working for one of the tech giants/fast-growings startups like many of my peers do. This means that I concentrate on the problem - and when the problem does not require deep learning for its solution, deep learning is simply not used.

I find that the most powerful way for us to stay on top of our game is to concentrate on the problem - and there are many emerging problems which needs some assistance from technology in order to be solved. Let me list a couple of examples.

Satellite image analysis, a.k.a data science, is used all around the world to increase crop yield, protect vulnerable populations from natural disasters, evaluate the environemtal damages of oil spills, and combat wildfires. Sensors are used to find our pets when they get lost, and to protect women and kids from physical violence or being kidnapped - read more here. A.I. is being used to fight male infertility - read here, and many many more.

There are a lot of environmental and social problems the world is facing now - and a lot of these problems need technology in some aspect or another. I have seen how sexy technology, or emerging technology, makes people happier at work until the novelty of this technology wears off and work dissatisfaction start slowly creeping in. The combination of sexy technology and an impact problem to solve gives people immense drive and motivation - and makes us happier and fulfulled with our job and our lives.

So whenever I speak about emerging technologies, I always speak about emerging problems too and the intersection of both. For me emerging technlogies and emerging prolems is the win-win combination we should strive for.

Emerging technologies


The life of a CTO

Soft skills and hard skills

Bonus: on Freelancing

Insta Live Recording

I am waiting for Tope to share the link to the recording, and as soon as she does - I will post it here.