July 31, 2018

African Master’s In Machine Intelligence

By: Facebook Research

Facebook is pleased to announce its support for the creation of a new master’s degree program “African Masters in Machine Intelligence” at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). As part of our ongoing commitment and investment in supporting communities across the continent, this program will bring together some of the most talented African graduate students to pursue research and engineering careers in machine learning. We know creativity and excellence exists across the whole of Africa, and in this multi-year commitment, Facebook will provide funding of $4M as well as world-leading researchers from our labs in New York and California (USA), Montreal (Canada) and Paris (France) to directly support the training and education of these master’s students.

Over the past decade, the discipline of Machine Learning has made significant progress thanks to both broad public investments and targeted efforts by technology-focused companies to products and services that are enabled or enriched by AI. Despite us seeing great advances, it is notable that the talent pool currently actively researching this space has remained relatively small and, importantly, is unrepresentative of the diversity of our world in terms of ethnic representation as well as geographic, economic and cultural background.

Although Machine Intelligence is a great enabling technology, it is also susceptible to bias through the way in which underlying algorithms are designed and/or trained. To help ensure that future research, products and services are better representative of the needs of our world, as an industry we need a more diverse community contributing to all aspects of research and innovation: defining the problems, designing and creating new approaches and tools, training AI systems, interpreting and critiquing the research and outputs. Our investment and engagement in AIMS is part of our commitment to the creation of a more diverse talent pipeline.

Commenting on the partnership, Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence said: “Our goal is to drive positive social and economic impact across Africa, and this partnership is another step in driving innovation by supporting the continent’s already exciting tech ecosystem and talent pool. We’re excited to see how students will utilize advanced technologies to solve problems and build solutions for the future of Africa and the rest of the world. We look forward to seeing them contribute to the growing ecosystem of African machine intelligence scientists and bring a fresh perspective on the challenges tackled by the scientific community.”

AIMS is a prize-winning, pan-African initiative that has been providing outstanding postgraduate training to Africa’s top graduates in math, science and engineering for the past 15 years. It currently operates six centers: Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon and Tanzania. AIMS receives around 6,000 applications per annum for 250 places currently available on its existing master’s programs. Our investments will help AIMS expand these efforts to include the topic of Machine Intelligence and give opportunity to hundreds of African students in the coming years.

Our hope is that a significant fraction of the AIMS masters students will choose to continue their research career and study a PhD or join the industrial and public R&D labs in Africa and beyond.

For more information and opportunities to apply to be part of the 2018-2019 enrollment, visit the AIMS website.