By Daniel Dafe
Postgraduate School of Delta State University, Abraka, on Wednesday and Thursday held a two-day workshop with theme “Directions in Postgraduate Research with the Emergence of Artificial Intelligence.’’
The said workshop, being the 7th in the series of workshops on enhancing research skills for postgraduate students, held at the 750A Lecture Hall, Site III.
Declaring the event open, Vice Chancellor of the institution, Professor Andy Egwunyenga, in his address, urged researchers, teachers and students of all categories to be more effective and competitive in a rapidly changing world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a more decisive role in all aspects of human existence.
Professor Egwunyenga who lauded the Postgraduate school for being upfront with current research trends and best practices, added that what defined a Postgraduate school was research, beyond routine learning, leading to innovation and competition.
He described the focus of the workshop as ‘apt and imperative’ describing AI as a transformative technology “that we cannot do without.
He opined: “It is changing our perceptions, our lives and everything about us,” just as he urged all those involved in research to embrace the opportunities provided by the AI, noting that: ‘’we live in an age where research is needed to bring about innovations to meet various human needs and improve on the quality of living.”
“In fact, there is virtually nothing we see today, after creation, that is not an outcome of research, especially with the emergence of artificial intelligence,’’ he said.
Reminding the participants of the specific objective of the workshop, the University Chief Executive explained that: ‘’This workshop, therefore, is aimed at improving on the research competence of Postgraduate students for national development. No doubt, the topics listed for discussion in this workshop will go a long way in achieving this objective.‘’
He explained that despite the pervasive impact of the AI, it did not replace human intelligence, noting that the quality of the research was all about the researcher.
Earlier, during his welcome Address, Dean, Postgraduate School, Prof. Temi Akporhonor, said the workshop was geared towards developing the research skills of postgraduate students.
Furthermore, he said the workshop will expose students to some of the latest developments in the field of artificial intelligence in academic research.
In his words: “Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the way we live and work. It is changing the way we think about business, education, and society as a whole. This workshop is an opportunity for us to explore some of the key trends and challenges in this field, and to discuss how we can best prepare ourselves for the future.”
He thanked the Vice-Chancellor “for creating an enabling environment for the Workshop.”
In his Keynote Address, Prof. Jonathan Tsetimi, Associate Dean of the Postgraduate School, who spoke on “Artificial Intelligence Technologies in Research,” citing John McCarthy (2004) defined artificial intelligence as the “science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computers,” adding that it is related to task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but noted that “AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.”
He said that while AI simulates human intelligence, robots are generally preprogrammed to help humans.
According to him, the future of automotive companies is AI cars.
Quoting Qazafi Qayyum, CEO TenX, he said that AI is only helping us to automate tasks that are repetitive and dangerous, freeing us to focus on more creative and strategic work.
“AI can help businesses make better decisions, increase efficiency and reduce costs without threatening peoples jobs it is not something to be feared. Instead we should adopt it to improve our lives,” he stated.
Professor Tsetimi noted that Artificial Intelligence still has to advance in areas such as language processing, creativity, problem-solving and subtlety comprehension.
“If you are afraid that robots will take your job, build these qualities in yourself to ensure that you’ll be employable in the future,” he hinted.
Meanwhile, he urged DELSU to encourage staff and students to use AI technologies.
This, he said can be done by integrating use of AI technologies in General Studies and teaching AI applications in Science and Engineering Courses.
“AI is a fast evolving field the university should regularly update staff and students on latest in AI technologies through seminars, workshops and conferences,” he added.
He also said the university should start investing in AI infrastructures, which include but not limited to powerful computer systems, storage and strong networking capabilities, saying AI technologies require high computational capacity.
Furthermore, he called on the Management to promote AI culture in the institution by encouraging collaboration and interdisciplinary research, supporting AI driven projects, facilitate access to large datasets and promoting open resource practices.”
He continued: “A curriculum for Data Science should be developed for DELSU.
The department of Computer Science in DELSU should be upgraded to a faculty with a name change to the Faculty of Computing Sciences to be able to run sellable AI related programmes in; Robotics, Cyber Security, Data Science, Data Analytics, Information Management, Business Intelligence, Machine Learning etc.”
Also, he said “the government can provide the enabling environment for AI technologies in research to strive in Nigeria.”
The keynote speaker said this can be done by promoting public awareness and engagement for AI technologies in research,
providing funding and grants for AI technologies in research, establishing training and education programmes on AI technologies in research, creating standardized frameworks for data sharing and accessibility, establishing ethical guidelines and standards for the use of AI in academic research, developing and maintaining a robust AI infrastructure in academic institutions and providing incentives for AI integration into government projects.
Other ways he said are encouraging research collaboration between academia and industry through public-private partnerships, supporting interdisciplinary research in AI, encouraging research collaboration between academic institutions, industry and government agencies.
The Second Session on the day of the opening ceremony had lectures by Prof. F.A. Sanubi, Prof. F.O. Tobih and Prof. M. Iwegbue.
While Prof. F.A. Sanubi focused on ‘Development of Research Proposal/Chapterisation’ and Prof. F.O. Tobih on ‘Ethical Issues/Plagiarism,’ Prof. M. Iwegbue gave a lecture on ‘Quality Publications from Dissertations & Thesis’
Day two of the programme had lectures on Artificial Intelligence in Literature review, Sampling, Data collection and Analysis;
Preparation of Slides and Presentation Techniques;
Choosing a Research Topic; and Feedback and Presentation of Certificates, delivered by
Prof. Jonathan Tsetimi,
Prof. Ignatius N. Njoseh,
Prof. Ochuko Nabofa and
Prof. Temi Akporhonor respectively.
A team of young researchers on artificial intelligence was introduced to the Vice Chancellor in the workshop.
The young researchers/scientists, who are students of DELSU, currently working on ways to improve multimedia presentations using artificial intelligence include, Ossaiugbo Marcu, Katule Adenibu and Tsetimi Oritsegbubemi.
Also unveiled at the two-day workshop on artificial intelligence was the standard well-researched scientific presentation method being used at the Postgraduate School.
The presentation method involving a five-step procedure of; research, evaluate, conceptualize, administration and review, was well explained by the keynote speaker Professor Jonathan Tsetimi.
He told the gathering that the adopted scientific presentation method was making for seamless presentations in the Postgraduate School especially during virtual oral examinations.
Speaking to Oasis Magazine exclusively, President of the Postgraduate Students Association of Nigeria, Delta State University, Abraka, Oviebemre Ohwovoriole, said the workshop was a wonderful one that x-rayed the use of AI in contemporary times.
He said: “The workshop came at the nick of time from the management of the postgraduate school. Students that participated benefitted immensely. The guest speaker, Professor Tsetimi and others did a detailed lecture. The students are happy because they enjoyed the programme. The presentations.were wonderful. It’s high time the Delta State Governennt to consider postgraduate students who are coming up with great ideas to bring them into governance so they can put into use such knowledge.”
Asked how often such workshops should be organised, he said that running the workshop annually is the way to.go.
Speaking further, he eulogised the Vice Chancellor for his continuous support to the postgraduate school and her students at large, while also commending the Dean for his innovative ideas.