A two-day workshop on Cooperative Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) kicked off, yesterday morning, in the presence of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, at the Université des Mascareignes (UDM), in Rose-Hill. This workshop is a joint initiative of the UDM and the Université de Limoges of France.
The Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Darsanand Balgobin, the Ambassador of the Republic of France to Mauritius, Mrs Florence Caussé-Tissier, the Director General of the UDM, Dr Radhakrishna Somanah, and other personalities were present at the opening.
In her keynote address, the Vice-Prime Minister indicated that Robotics and AI were unquestionably pertinent areas in a world where the impact of digitalisation and information technology was very much at the forefront. “This workshop,” she added, “reaffirms the core vision of the Ministry to build the next generation of forward-thinking leaders who will contribute to the transformation of our republic into a prosperous nation.”
Moreover, Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun highlighted that in the span of a few years, AI had taken a prominent place in the mainstream public discussions as well as in the political arena and currently, AI’s progress was in full swing as it was being propelled by innovations such as Cloud Computing, Mega Data and Virtual Reality.
On this score, she encouraged participants to seize the opportunities presented through this awaited transformation of education through AI and educational robotics as this would open up possibilities to improve education at all levels.
For his part, Minister Balgobin indicated that in today’s business world, the adoption of AI as a technology was no longer an alternative but a must in almost every industry. On this note, he announced that his Ministry was currently working on the creation of a chatbot with technologies such as AI and Machine Learning which would be integrated in the Government portal and subsequently in all Ministries.
As regards the workshop, the Minister underscored that such workshops conducted by an academic institution such as the UDM were fully aligned with the objective of his Ministry as Academia was of crucial importance in providing properly qualified human resources in the appropriate mode to support the development of AI and robotics in Mauritius. “Academia should aim not only to provide educational support to school leavers, but also to train employees in the workplace and to provide development opportunities for those seeking new professional opportunities,” he stated.
As for the French Ambassador, she highlighted that this workshop, with its innovative theme, was particularly appropriate as it was currently the subject of much media attention due to its very practical and concrete impact on daily lives. “I am confident that this workshop will address several questions that are essential for the future of our planet and our humanity, and that the very high-level contributions that are included in the programme will lead to in-depth reflection on the significant transformation of several categories of jobs including certain existing jobs that will be brought about by the use of robotics,” she stressed.
The Director General of the UDM, for his part, spoke of the mission and vision of the UDM which was to promote innovation, excellence and transformative education through high quality teaching and internationally recognised research and create a smart and sustainable campus for students and staff with the assistance of universities such as the Université de Limoges from France.