No. 206: Congressional AI Task Force | NYC AI Center | Microsoft Opens AI Playbook

Waters Announces Committee Task Forces on Financial Technology and Artificial Intelligence (US House Committee on Financial Services)

I’m glad to see Rep. Alma Adams on the artificial intelligence committee. My hope is that she asks those questions that get at the unintended consequences around the meshing of AI technology and financial services and those impacts on vulnerable Americans.

The concerning part about this is that this is work that should have taken place a years ago. The Chinese government released its AI strategy in 2017 and cities are investing in AI research at the level of the U.S. government. The White House just started thinking through AI policy a couple years ago. It’s water under the bridge now, but I look forward to following this committee and hope they staff up well and move quickly.

Silicon Valley likes to think of itself as successful on its own, but those defense contracts 40 years ago served as a huge wind to its back. Even today, companies like Tesla have benefited greatly from government investment. Currently, the private sector is investing heavy in AI. The US won’t lead in this space until the government gets itself together to put resources behind the development of AI technology in a coordinated fashion.

As an aside, I remember seeing Rep. Adams around Greensboro as a kid growing up. She and Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson shaped my view of who could lead. Grateful for their model.

(Erica, I’m rooting for you!)

NYCEDC Seeks Proposals for Responsible Artificial Intelligence Center (GlobeSt)

Cities across the US would do well to follow New York City and have at least a few folks think proactively about AI and how their city can shape its development and impact on their locale. This effort by NYC to stand up a center that shapes the development of artificial intelligence is important and commendable.

There’s one caveat. I mentioned in the above section that cities are investing in AI at the level of the U.S. For more context there, Shanghai is standing up a nearly $15B fund to invest in AI research and development. Contrast that with the $7M with which NYC will support its Center for Responsible Artificial Intelligence.

Creating AI glass boxes – Open sourcing a library to enable intelligibility in machine learning (Microsoft Research)

This is a strong move by Microsoft to build a tool that helps folks understand what the AI they are using is actually doing. The movie Margin Call came to mind while reading this. Something like this might have been helpful as banks were spinning up models they didn’t understand in the lead up to the financial crisis of 2008.

No. 201: Edouardo Jordan Remembers Black Food | Ghana at Venice Biennale | Satya Levels Up Microsoft

Showing Up at Your Dream Job Uninvited (Without Fail Podcast)

Ghana arrives at the Venice Biennale, bringing new narratives with it (Financial Times)

The Most Valuable Company (for Now) Is Having a Nadellaissance (Bloomberg)

No. 156: 3AMReads: Azure in Africa |Facebook Invests in Fiber Optic | Volvo Takes to Kenya

Microsoft Announces First Public Cloud in Africa

Microsoft announced today that it was going to stand up two data centers in South Africa, the first public data centers on the continent. Let that sit with you for a bit. Hopefully, this is the beginning of public clouds proliferating across the continent. The benefits of this reach from public sector revenue generation to auto mobility technologies I was fretting over yesterday. GM, come back, maybe?

Facebook Invests in Fiber Optic in Uganda

I missed the news earlier this year that Uganda was investing $170M in a fiber optic project in Uganda. East Africa landing $270M in fiber optic investments over the past couple months, including Google investing $100M in Csquared, is definitely a good look. Keep it coming!

Volvo Expanding Truck-Building to Kenya

Volvo announced yesterday that it was opening its third truck assembly plant on the African continent, this time in Kenya. I look forward to seeing how this operation performs considering the work the East African Community has done to ensure cross border trade is as strong as possible.

No. 117: 3 Tuesday AM Reads – Davidson Grad Gets a Promotion |JP Morgan Has Plans for Africa | Gabon’s Energy Sector at 30,000ft

  1. I nearly clicked my heels when I saw the news of Amrote Abdella being named Regional Director of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, an effort for Microsoft to support economic development on the continent while finding new business opportunities. I’m a big fan of Amrote’s. Seeing Davidson alumnae killing it will never get old.

  2. What is getting old is American business news anchors not believing that there is opportunity to do business in African countries. See Stephanie Ruhle’s face during her interview with JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon at the 25:40 mark. At least Stephanie listened. Check out this interview Trish Regan did with McKinsey Director, Acha Leke, last year.


  3. Interesting analysis of market headwinds Africa’s oil and gas industries face and how consistent regulatory policy could help mitigate the impact of dropping energy prices. Speaking of consistent regulatory policy, NJ Ayuk and his Centurion law firm, put out a guide to Gabon’s energy sector, including an explanation of its new hydrocarbons law.