AI-Related Searches Peak in Kenya as Interest Rises

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Google Search trends reveal that searches for Artificial Intelligence (AI) are at an all-time high in Kenya as interest in the topic rises. Search trends show that Kenyans searched for AI more than in previous years, with interest rising by 270% since last year and 400% over the last five years.

Notably, searches for “How to use artificial intelligence? (+350%), “What is an AI?” (+300%), “How AI works” (+200%) and “How to make artificial intelligence” (+200%) are all trending.

With the rise of generative AI models, many people are seeking solutions built on the models to help with various tasks such as content generation and summaries, enhanced customer experience and improved productivity. This has seen an explosion of tools and apps built on the aforementioned models as tech companies continue to build solutions relying on generative AI.

The tech giant released their conversational chatbot Bard in Kenya in March and Swahili in July. According to Google, AI has the potential to contribute to solving various societal challenges.

However, the company points to the need to pursue AI responsibly, including advocating for responsible regulation, prioritizing the technology’s purpose for the public good as well as collaborating with others to “get AI right”.

Search trends findings

In addition to using Google Search to better understand AI, Kenyans have also begun to look at how to leverage AI to increase their productivity, capture their imagination and build their careers.

Search interest in AI in relation to jobs increased by over 5,000% this year – while searches for AI in relation to CV or resume building increased by 1,150% and searches in relation to AI courses doubled. Searches for “free AI image generator” (+2,500%), “AI music generator” (+2,200%), “AI website builder” (+1,600%), “AI video generator” (+1,400%) and “logo maker AI” (+1,150%) all also increased.

Kenyans are looking for resources to build their careers. Searches for AI courses have increased by 100% while searches for “online business from home” have increased by 250% since last year and searches for “how to register a business” have increased by 200%. With the growing demand for digital skills, Kenyans are looking to gain new certifications in the area – with searches for courses in virtual assistance (+450%), data analysis (+200%), digital marketing (+200%), and cybersecurity (+100%) all increasing significantly this year.

Agnes Gathaiya, Director, East Africa, while expressing the company’s commitment to working boldly and responsibly with Kenya to maximise the potential of AI, while minimising its abuse, says: “It’s great to see people in Kenya showing such a keen interest in the transformational technology that is AI. People in Africa and across the world are already using and benefiting from responsibly developed AI-based tools every day – but the speed of technological advancement is accelerating, and while it’s exhilarating to see these breakthroughs, it’s important that we get it right here in Kenya.”

Interest in cybersecurity protection and fighting misinformation

At a time when cyberattacks are ever-evolving and threats continue to increase in frequency and complexity, it is important to have proper training and awareness on how best to protect yourself. Kenya is no exception as global cyberattacks surge with the country being the third most targeted country in Africa.

The trends released by Google also reveal that Kenyans continue to be concerned about protecting their cybersecurity. Searches for “DNS hijacking” (+350%), “click fraud” (+150%) and “voice phishing” (+100%) are all trending, having increased significantly since last year.

Search interest in misinformation has also increased: with searches for “fake news” increasing by over 5,000% over the past ten years, while searches for “fact-checking” and “disinformation” rose by 2,700% and 1,150% respectively over the past ten years. Searches for “how to identify fake news” have increased by 200%, while searches for “types of disinformation” have increased by 60%.

In addressing security challenges and misinformation, Google uses AI in Gmail to automatically detect and block malware, phishing and spam. Additionally, through the Google News Initiative, engineers are collaborating with fact-checkers and publishers to use AI-enabled tools to find and tackle misinformation.

Expert answers to top searched questions on AI

Google’s research reveals the top trending questions asked about AI across Kenya. Google East Africa Director, Agnes Gathaiya answers some of the most frequently asked questions:

1. What is Artificial Intelligence and how does it work?

AI is a type of technology that can learn from its environment, experiences and people, and that can understand patterns and make projections better than any previous technology before it. AI models require input data into the system to train it.

Once AI systems are trained, they’re tested to see if they work well. You can do this by asking the AI model to describe or recognise a cat, for example, if you are building a cat recognition system, or even to generate a picture of one for you.

2. When did AI start?

AI can be traced back to the early 1950s when Alan Turing – a British mathematician – published a paper on “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”. That kick-started the principles behind AI – but the first time anyone used the term was likely in 1956, when John McCarthy hosted a conference at Dartmouth College called the Dartmouth Summer Research Project in Artificial Intelligence.

So AI is not new – in fact, AI research has been accelerating since the 1990s. Google itself became an AI-first company back in 2015. But the pace of AI development is accelerating – with more households able to access generative AI tools like text-to-image generators or chatbots – which has made AI a household phrase for maybe the first time.

3. Where is AI used?

AI has always been integral to many daily tools, from Google Translate to antilock braking in cars. Recent advancements have led to more profound use cases. At the heart of this evolution is the Google AI centre in Accra, laser-focused on Africa’s unique challenges and aspirations. While innovations like Google DeepMind’s AlphaFold impact global biotech, in Africa, we’re taking strides that resonate with local needs. We’re collaborating to map remote buildings for better planning, using AI to predict challenges like locust outbreaks, and enhancing maternal health via AI-powered ultrasound.

AI’s potential in sustainability is vast. In Africa, it’s about thriving industries that respect our rich biodiversity. While the global health community benefits from protein sequence mapping, for Africa, it’s a hope against diseases like malaria.

4. What can AI do and how can I use it?

Think of AI as a tool that’s good at understanding patterns and making projections – better than any computer has been before and that’s been taught to learn from its environment, experiences and people. When you put that ability to good use, you can use AI to do all sorts of amazing things: like helping doctors to screen for and identify cancer, predicting and monitoring natural disasters, or helping businesses to identify and reduce their carbon emissions.
You’re probably using AI all the time already, without realising. But you can now also use AI to help boost your productivity with experimental language tools like Bard; to translate even more languages on Google Translate; or to find the most fuel-efficient route on Google Maps.

5. Is AI dangerous?

AI, like any other technology, can be used for good or bad, depending on the user. On the one hand, it has incredible potential to be used in ways that are beneficial for society. Such cases include whether it’s protecting people from spam and fraud, translating hundreds more languages, or forecasting floods up to seven days in advance. However, it can also be used to amplify current societal issues – like misinformation and discrimination.

It’s really important that we get these tools right, working together to ensure we’re creating and using them responsibly. That means governments introducing regulations to help us seize the benefits of AI while mitigating the risks, as well as companies developing shared sets of standards and principles.

6. Will AI take my job?

As technology has developed, so too has the job market. At the beginning of the last century, people mostly worked in agriculture. Now we have hedge fund managers, cabin crews aboard widely accessible commercial flights – and, as recently as 1995, web designers. So we’ve had these questions for a long time and, as a society, we’ve navigated them well.

That’s not to underestimate the potential of AI – which is essentially the ‘third wave’ of digital technology after the internet and mobile phones. It will be brilliant for people’s productivity and for economic opportunity – but it will also cause some levels of disruption. We’ll see a whole set of jobs that can grow. But the most profound change will be how technologies will assist in our jobs. AI will become a partner to many of us, helping us not just to make the repetitive tasks of our work more efficient, but sparking creativity and enabling us to spend more time on the bits of our jobs that we love and that challenge us.