AI Student Ambassador Alfred Ongere: Using AI to Improve Lives

Published: 10/26/2017  

Last Updated: 10/26/2017

The Intel® Student Developer Program was created to work collaboratively with students at innovative schools and universities doing great work in the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence space. I had the opportunity to get to know Intel® Student Ambassador Alfred Ongere and learn about how he became interested in artificial intelligence and his passion to be a positive influence for others.

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Tell us about your background.

I am very passionate about impact and I consider myself to be an Impact Chaser. That's because I pursue opportunities, activities, and ventures that impact other people's lives positively. Since March 2016 I have served as an Intel® student& partner and then Intel® Student Ambassador for Multimedia University where I have been studying for my degree in Telecommunications and Information Engineering. I am also passionate about entrepreneurship, particularly social entrepreneurship, which to me means paying attention to the people or end customers you are serving. It is about being customer and impact centric.

I attended the 2017 Advanced Trepcamp High-Impact Entrepreneurship program at Boston University where I interacted with clusters dealing with robotics, virtual reality, Internet of Things (IoT), education and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. I am also a Windows* Insiders 4 Good East African Fellow courtesy of my startup, Sahibu, a project that aims to improve refugees' lives through opportunities, life-saving information, and alerts on their mobile phones. I am passionate about sharing knowledge and experiences with people and around me, and I always enjoy every session that I am part of under Intel's programs.

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What got you started in technology?

Ever since I was a kid, I always had a curiosity about how things, especially machines, worked. That curiosity grew into wanting to fix things when I saw a problem. The first thing I remember fixing was a broken toy car. Eventually, learning engineering and consequently, technology provided the best means of fixing and improving things.

What projects are you working on now?

I have quite a number I should be working on, but currently I'm focusing on improving my IoT project that measures and transmits level of fill in regularly shaped containers. I want to add some data science and AI to it so that I can predict future values of levels of fill based on the previous data collected. I will employ a linear regression model on the data collected from previous tests. Through the future predictions, such a solution will help in cutting down costs based on the current readings as compared to the trained data. 

I am also working on a project that aims to prove whether there is a correlation between someone's facial features and their voice. The goal is to have a well-trained model that would predict your voice or face, based on either input that is provided to it. Once the project has matured, it can be used to describe people's faces to blind people based only on the voices they hear, this could come in handy especially in emergencies like blackouts. I hope to use the Intel® Movidius™ Neural Compute Stick (NCS) for inferencing once I am done training and designing the model because my project would benefit from using a dedicated low power consumption device.

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Tell us about a technology challenge you’ve had to overcome in a project?

Of late, I've been encountering so many cool case study projects that I want to share with other developers during my events, and it's always hard to decide which one will best suit their needs technical wise. I always have to strike a balance between the two, so that I also don't leave out the beginners who come to the events for discovery. Now that the program is growing, I’m learning that I need to have more events tailored to the audience type so that each can benefit and learn in equal proportion. The more advanced audience members have different needs that need to be addressed in a different way.

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What trends do you see happening in technology in the near future?

I see AI as a Service (AIaaS) thriving in the near future, in almost all aspects of the industry. With the increasingly big amounts of data that we keep producing every day, companies with the best AI, Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) services will be in higher demand as this space keeps advancing on a day to day basis. Microsoft recently announced that they will be introducing AI package solutions in Office 365. This means that a normal user would leverage AI solutions from Microsoft on their excel spreadsheets and documents. Another example would be Data Robot that automates ML for users who are not data scientists. A user can upload an excel document containing structured information, and the site will give guidance on the algorithm to use, based on what the user aims to achieve. The site simplifies the ML problem-solving approach for non-data scientists and business analysts. Putting such a solution on the cloud, and consequently as a service makes it more accessible, and simple to use for everyone. More of such solutions will take shape in future as AI becomes a field that is widely researched.

How are you planning to leverage Artificial Intelligence or Deep Learning technologies in your work?

Of late, I've found that most of the solutions I keep coming up with are inclined towards assisting people to make the right decisions. I see myself leveraging on AI in making the best decision support tools for the end users. I hope to maximize on optimized libraries for Intel Infrastructure and particularly the Intel® Movidius™ NCS in applications that require high compute and low power requirements.

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What are you looking forward to doing with Intel as a Student Ambassador?

I look forward to growing the tech community in my country, and constantly providing new ideas to improve the ambassador program. I also hope to connect and educate more upcoming developers on all Intel resources that can help advance their technology projects. I also look forward to meeting the great minds that are behind the Intel technologies that we enjoy in our daily lives.  

How can Intel help students like you succeed?

By providing more technology resources that students can experiment and grow from. I applaud Intel for launching the Intel® AI Academy and making it accessible worldwide.

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What impact on the world do you see AI having? And do you see yourself as part of it?

I see AI helping us make better decisions in life and I see myself as one of the frontrunners pursuing such solutions to improve people's lives. I'll give a personal example that I go through every day, Samsung* Health. My Samsung* Galaxy Edge phone is able to count how many steps I take daily. Using pedometer sensors, the phone is independently able to count how many steps I take daily as long as I'm carrying it in my pocket or holding it in my hand while walking. I can also set up challenges with my friends, or join global challenges with other users, where we compete to see who hits the highest amount of steps in a given time. In a bid to increase my daily steps while competing with close friends in a challenge, I have developed a tendency to take the stairs every day at work. The app has influenced me to avoid using lifts, since I need to keep fit and increase my daily steps at the same time. AI, the step classifier in this case, has influenced my decision of using the lifts, and I can walk up seven floors daily because I've gotten used to it, thanks to the app.

In the case of my startup Sahibu, I aim to improve and empower refugees using information. Having information influences the decisions they make in their daily lives. I aim to create and leverage on text summarization AI to collect and summarize important information and deliver it urgently to refugees on their phones. I also plan to create or leverage on language classification and translation AI to address language barrier problems for refugees.

Want to learn more? Check out our Student Developer Zone, join Intel® Developer Mesh, or learn more about becoming a Student Ambassador

Interested in more information? Contact Niven Singh

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