Article By Ngozi Bell, Trans Sahara Investment Corporation Partner, and WITI, Women in Technology International Advocate and Speaker



Where I come from, when a family loses a child, one time, twice, the next time they have one – that child gets a distinctive name that tells the story – a name like Ahamefula (Ah-Ha-May-Fu-La), translated “may my name or my impact or strength never be lost again”.

It is a prayer of sorts – hoping that this time, that child stays. It is also believed that as their names suggest, such children fight to stay and stay for good!

The AI Memory Lane

So let us take a quick walk down the AI memory lane to explore the many lives of AI and see if like Ahamefula, it will stay this time for good! Artificial Intelligence, or AI, was coined at a conference in 1956 at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. The words Artificial Intelligence literally came from the perspective of inanimate objects coming to life.

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SwissCognitiveAt that conference Marvin Minsky an MIT cognitive scientist and his colleagues believed that within a generation, just 10 years, Artificial Intelligence would be a thing, fully emerged! Something inanimate would become like human! Well, the truth is it didn’t happen that fast, and governments wary of the spending bailed and between 1974-80 funding had stopped. AI withered into what was termed the first AI Winter.

As the 1980s rolled by, Britain in pursuit of a competitive edge against the Japanese pulled the AI card and resumed funding. Alas, that too did not last, as with the failure of general-purpose computers, government funding again disappeared and between 1987 – 1993, AI was again laid to rest, as another AI winter set in.

Then, somewhat serendipitously, a rebirth of sorts in succession shows up. First, in 1997 IBM Deep Blue computer defeats Russian chess grand master Garry Kasparov. Then in 2011 IBM’s Watson ( a question answering system) beat reigning jeopardy champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. And again in 2014 “Chatbox” the talking computer Eugene Goostman tricked judges into thinking it was human, passing a Turing test.

AI is Fighting to Stay and Be Part of Our Lives

What was special about these activities, was that it seemed like AI was metaphorically speaking, fighting to stay and be part of our lives for good! So the broad question before us today, is this – if AI is here for good – Should we place our bet with it and how does it really help us? In other words – Can a machine interact with a human in a way that benefits humanity naturally?

For the past 10 years, many of us have been exposed to AI without knowing it. Gmail knows to put our spam in the spam folder, Google home quickly returns a very appropriate answer to my question, in gmail the automatic response options continuously adapt to my personal writing style All of that is AI, at work for my benefit.

The truth is, just about every time we are online, we are interacting with an AI that is studying our habits, predicting our actions and making suggestions to us.

That is how far AI has come. In a Pegasystems’ study a few years ago, of the 6,000 consumers asked if they had interacted with AI, 34% said yes, 34% said no, and 32% were not sure. The data showed that a staggering 84% of them had actually interacted with AI essentially concluding that, 50% of people experience AI, without knowing it.

You see between 2005 to 2016, with the advent of Big Data analytics and other new concepts, AI applications increased exponentially, and the classes of AI from Machine Learning to Neural Networks to Deep Learning, became more versatile in their use cases! AI is seamlessly blending into our lives.

So while it is safe to say that AI has come to stay, is it worth your investment and if so where should you target? So let’s size the AI Prize by the numbers.

AI – Future Predictions

According to a PwC report:

  • By 2030, AI will make many products and services better, contributing $15.7 trillion to the global economy.
  • By 2027 fueled by AI, the self-driving or autonomous vehicle market will reach $127B.
  • By 2035, researchers expect AI systems to be one-tenth as smart as a human.
  • By 2060, AI could start performing most tasks humans do, and some much better.

Today, Google’s processor, the Tensor Processing Unit an AI accelerator is the “power inside” its cloud computing servers, making the Google universe very intelligent.

Investing in AI

So following the logic of investing in growing sectors – AI, is a worthy investment – With that established, where can you target your investments to make the best bets?

So I just dropped a big name like Google, that also means Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, FB, Alibaba etc – deep pockets are all into AI – that’s a big deal! So the real question is what of you/us? Should we be in AI seeing that we don’t necessarily have the deep pockets?

The answer is absolutely yes!

You see AI, like any big impact technology needs big stakes investments to create the foundation for rapid innovation. This requires the deep and broad pockets of the government.

Please permit me to use the US government as the backdrop to continue this part of the conversation.

Simply put, by reviewing the US government’s AI strategy, in foundational research, big data stockpiles and spending, this can serve as a roadmap to the private sector to confidently place their investment bets! A strategy that would be valid in any stable economy. The US government’s fundamental strategy for AI is consistent – use federal dollars to clear the very expensive scientific hurdle of very early stage R&D investment. Establish the strategic stakeholders of Government-Public-Private-Academia and International Partner linkages.

The goal being the creation of a sustained AI support and viable ecosystem for private sector investment that catapults innovation! Within this strategy, the private sector can find strategic investment opportunities – here are some examples:


The VA’s National AI Institute will give the U.S. AI R&D community access to its data. The private sector can then create breakthrough solutions that will revolutionize society for the better. The VA is the largest integrated health care system in the country and the largest genomic knowledge base in the world that is linked to its own health care information system.

Data mining

NSF has funded the largest and most powerful academic supercomputer, called Frontera, hosted at the University of Texas at Austin, to serve the nation’s science and engineering research community. It has the highest scale, throughput, and data analysis capabilities Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin.


NOAA has AI applications that improve nautical charts to ensure safe and efficient maritime commerce, surveying of fish stocks to effectively manage our nation’s $208B/year recreational and commercial fishing industries, monitoring and conserving endangered species and exploring, mapping, and monitoring the world’s ocean conditions and coasts for critical national security and economic applications.

Financial Sector

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is actively implementing machine learning algorithms to monitor and detect potential investment market misconduct.

AI as cyber defence

As we know and have come t expect, there are inherent cybersecurity risks with any digital systems that open to wide access and AI is not exempt. DARPA’s AI Next Campaign is an R&D investment strategy that focuses on enabling solutions that counter adversarial cyber attacks. The idea is that AI can provide elegant, powerful and robust solutions in counter-attack applications. They can detect, deter and destroy data that infect and contaminate training data, exploit flaws and loopholes, modify algorithms, and create adversarial inputs etc. This research is expected to lead to solutions for more secure, robust, and safe AI systems that are reliable and trustworthy.

FDA Approvals

The FDA approved a number of AI-powered medical diagnostic devices including one that uses artificial intelligence to detect the eye disease “diabetic retinopathy” in adults with diabetes.

These are just a few, there are countless AI investments by the US government – that are opportunities for investment focus areas.

So As we use AI to automate cities, and imbue the corporate and political worlds with intelligent machinery, the value of AI in our economy will drastically increase in both monetary value and demand. Because of this, it is not only integral that we put our dollars into artificial intelligence but our hearts too. If we manage it all responsibly, we will witness a large return on investment.

In conclusion, here are the facts, Data is the Oxygen of AI and money is its fuel. So do two things, follow the data and follow the money. Find what your government or the big public and private consortiums are doing on both and decipher from those investment trends some of your roadmap for investment. So today I bring you “AI”-ha-me-fu-la – AI is here for good!


Trans Sahara Investment
Corporation, Partner

WITI, Women in Technology International
Advocate and Speaker

Keynote transcrip by Ngozi Bell, given at SwissCognitive Virtual AI Conference: The Shakedown-Test of AI Investments – September 17 2020

Event Page: HERE

Ngozi Bell’s Recordnings: HERE