Africa’s first BotCon is coming to Joburg this month


Are you ready to welcome your robot overlords? Better decide quick, because AIs and chatbots are everywhere already, even in South Africa: from Watson-powered customer support desks to Absa’s Facebook and Twitter bankbots, there’s no escape from their presence. And to paraphrase the old maxim about computers, in the future there will be two types of people: those who control the chatbots and those who are controlled by the chatbots.

If you want to be one of the former, you probably shouldn’t miss Africa’s first conference on the subject.

BotCon Africa 2016 is being co-ordinated by Praekelt, the technology firm which works with chatbots to augment its work on mobile apps for the world’s poorest. Earlier this year, Praekelt.org developed a groundbreaking chatbot to assist young mothers wanting to access maternal health information on the South African National Department of Health’s MomConnect service.

BotCon Africa 2016 is scheduled for Friday 18 November, and will take place at JoziHub in 44 Stanley. You can sign up for tickets over here.

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Not convinced? Check out the speaker list below.

  • Jade Abbott is a Senior Software Developer at Retro Rabbit and is the Machine Learning Specialist behind Kalido.
  • Gustav Praekelt is a digital entrepreneur and obsessive technologist. He is CEO and founder of the eponymous company which develops digital products for emerging markets.
  • Evan Wheeler is the chief technology officer at UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre, managing the design and development of open-source technologies to accelerate UNICEF’s impact worldwide.
  • Frans Cronje is the Managing Director of DataProphet. He earned his Honors in Actuarial Science from UCT, where his thesis involving Bayesian Networks to price ALSI options piqued his interest in machine learning algorithms.
  • Hendrik Swanepoel is a developer at 22seven in Cape Town. He also creates video courses forpluralsight.com.
  • Belinda Lewis has been designing digital products and services for humans for almost a decade. She has Masters degrees in both Behavioural & Evolutionary Ecology and Interactive Media Design and is currently Product Director for Conversational Interfaces at Praekelt.
  • Ashvin Sologar is the co-founder and COO of Om Mobile Ventures, makers of Kalido, a newly launched platform designed to help talented professionals and terrific clients find the right people to work with anywhere and anytime.
  • Simon de Haan is Praekelt Foundation’s Chief Engineer based in the Netherlands. He is excited about technology, especially when it is applied to address inequality and to improve the lives of less privileged people.
  • Emeka Afigbo leads Facebook’s Product Partnership efforts in the Middle East and Africa focused on driving Facebook strategy through global programs and strategic product integrations with partners.
  • Ryan Falkenberg – Co-CEO, Clevva
  • Raymond Ellis – Senior data scientist, Data Prophet
[Main image – CC BY Michelle MF]

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