‘It’s important to use Artificial Intelligence ethically to benefit us all’

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Deputy Minister of the Department of Communications and Digital Technology, Philly Mapulane emphasises the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to ensure its benefits reach all South Africans.

Delegates at the Southern African Telecommunications Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) say artificial intelligence will soon be in the lives of all South Africans.

Giving a keynote address on Monday at SATNAC 2023 in Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal, under the theme: The Augmented Era: Navigating Artificial Intelligence in a Connected Society, Mapulane claims that AI will make communication and business easier regardless of who or where you are.

“As we navigate this path, we are mindful of the ethical consideration that comes with AI adoption; ensuring that AI technologies are developed and developed responsibly is a priority for our government. We believe in a future where AI benefits all citizens, regardless of their background or location. Let us collectively strive to build an AI ecosystem that respects human rights, privacy and dignity,” Mapulane adds.


Telkom CEO Serame Taukubong says every aspect of technology needs to be regulated to ensure that fraudsters and bullies, amongst others, are regulated.

Industry players are currently working with government to regulate this space. Telkom played the leading role in establishing the Centre of Excellence Programme in 1997.

Taukubong says, “The ethics of artificial intelligence, and I think it’s an ongoing debate. You know, how far do we go with artificial intelligence, noting that, you know, we are exposing ourselves on a daily basis to lots of activities around artificial intelligence. You carry a smartphone. Best model watches you get a new phone, you best agree. Are you sure what you’re agreeing to? The ways of information going to? So there is the good of AI. Because if you see for instance with code with the rapid development of vaccines was as a lot of AI.”

VIDEO:  The SATNAC 2023 conference:

25th anniversary

SATNAC has also celebrated the 25th anniversary of its establishment as a centre of excellence. The centre is a public-private partnership with government seeking to use skills and research projects to advance technology.

Chairperson of SATNAC Maki Jantjies says, “The topic of AI is very important because we’ve seen a disruption of what we call generative AI and artificial intelligence, particularly this year across sectors globally and it was important for us to then root it in the South African context to say: how are industries transforming? How are academic institutions transforming? And how are we as a society responding to this disruption that ultimately is going to have an impact on the everyday South African? And so for the next two days, we will be hearing different presentations that range from how corporate is using artificial intelligence to how academic institutions are looking at research areas that impact every South African affected by artificial intelligence, but most importantly, how we as a country can ensure issues such as ethics are then embedded in how we adopt the technology within the sector.”