Gov’t Set Sights on Artificial Intelligence

Photo: Donald De La Haye Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, addressing the Jamaica Computer Society’s (JCS) symposium, which was held at the University of the West Indies’ Regional Headquarters in Mona, St. Andrew, recently, under the theme ‘The Future of IT Jobs’.

Story Highlights

  • The Government is looking to position Jamaica to take advantage of the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in boosting economic growth and job creation.
  • Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, said there is ongoing discussion involving the Ministry, Jamaica Information Technology and Services Alliance (JITSA), Jamaica Computer Society (JCS), and Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) on how best AI can be leveraged for the country’s benefit.
  • He noted that while AI poses a potential threat to traditional call centre operations in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, it presents opportunities in the high-skill areas of programming and development.

The Government is looking to position Jamaica to take advantage of the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in boosting economic growth and job creation.

AI is the area of computer science that is focused on the creation of intelligent machines that operate like humans. Some of the attendant activities include speech recognition and problem-solving.

Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, said there is ongoing discussion involving the Ministry, Jamaica Information Technology and Services Alliance (JITSA), Jamaica Computer Society (JCS), and Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) on how best AI can be leveraged for the country’s benefit.

He noted that a recent analysis of 12 developed economies incorporating AI in their engagements, conducted by United Kingdom (UK)-based software designers, Accentra, showed that those countries could potentially double their growth rates by 2035.

Dr. Wheatley was addressing a JCS symposium at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters in Mona, St. Andrew, recently, under the theme ‘The Future of IT Jobs’,

He noted that while AI poses a potential threat to traditional call centre operations in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, it presents opportunities in the high-skill areas of programming and development.

“AI does not flourish without the help of the programmer and architects behind the scene,” he pointed out, noting that there is great demand for highly skilled programmers in countries like Germany, Japan, China and the UK.

As such, Dr. Wheatley said that more must be done to tap into the country’s pool of computer science graduates and incorporate them into higher-level BPO jobs.

“We must, therefore, look to increase the number of computer science graduates from our tertiary institutions, so that we can take advantage of the clear opportunities that will come from the new demand for highly skilled programmers,” he stressed.

Dr. Wheatley said Jamaicans must become creators of technology products and solutions, rather than being mere consumers.

“I am confident in our people. We have talent, we have the innovative capacity and, more importantly, we have the know-how,” he said.

“We have to be very creative and innovative in how we incorporate artificial intelligence and not try to shun it aside, because it will enable us to do more and it makes our jobs much easier,” he noted further.

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