Kenyan IT Professionals Urge Parliament to Reject AI and Robotics Bill: Here’s Why

The proposed bill seeks to levy fines on unlicensed entities engaged in robotic and AI operations if they fail to register with the RSK.

Kenya faces criticism for its new AI and robotics bill

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🖥️ Chapter 1: A Controversial Bill

The 2023 Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Society Bill introduced in Kenya’s parliament has raised concerns among information technology (IT) professionals. They argue that the bill falls short in several aspects and have urged the parliament to reject it.

During a session held by the National Assembly’s Communication, Information, and Innovation Committee to observe International Safer Internet Day in 2024, it was revealed that stakeholders in the AI and robotics fields were not involved in any phase of the bill drafting process. According to local media reports, this lack of involvement is a significant issue that needs to be addressed.

🔎 What is the bill about?

The bill stipulates that entities involved in robotics and AI businesses must register with the Robotics Society of Kenya (RSK) to avoid being categorized as unlicensed. Failure to register can result in severe penalties, including fines of up to one million Kenyan shillings ($6,269), a potential two-year prison sentence, or both.

📸 Image: Screenshot of Kenya’s Robotic and AI Society Bill. Source: DataGuidance

🖥️ Chapter 2: The Role of the RSK

The Robotics Society of Kenya (RSK) is intended to serve as a regulatory body that oversees and fosters the development of the robotics and AI sectors. It aims to collaborate with other authorities to establish rules and guidelines to ensure compliance among companies. The RSK will also provide advisory services to the government on emerging trends within AI and robotics.

📢 Chapter Subheading: Concerns raised by the IT Professionals

During the meeting, Alex Gakuru, the director of the Center for Law in Information Technology and head of the American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya, emphasized the need for further consultation with stakeholders before enacting the bill. He argued that the bill, as currently drafted, fails to adequately address AI concerns and focuses primarily on regulating the robotics sector. Gakuru cautioned that the bill might face legal challenges if not amended.

Q&A: What are the concerns raised by IT professionals?

Q1: Why do IT professionals want the bill to be rejected? A1: IT professionals believe that the bill is problematic because stakeholders in the AI and robotics fields were not consulted during the drafting process.

Q2: How does the bill define unlicensed entities? A2: The bill considers entities unlicensed if they fail to register their robotics and AI ventures with the Robotics Society of Kenya (RSK).

Q3: What are the potential penalties for unlicensed entities? A3: Unlicensed entities can face fines of up to one million Kenyan shillings ($6,269), a potential two-year prison sentence, or both.

🌍 Chapter 3: Kenya’s AI Readiness

Kenya, ranked fifth in Africa for its readiness to implement AI in public service delivery, falls behind Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, and Morocco according to the 2022 Government AI Readiness Index released by Oxford Insights. While Kenya has made strides in AI investment, with an estimated 13 billion shillings ($81.5 million) over the last decade, it still lags behind countries like South Africa with $1 billion investment and Nigeria with $378 million as highlighted in Microsoft’s “Artificial Intelligence in the Middle East and Africa Outlook Report.”

🔮 Future Outlook and Recommendations

Considering Kenya’s potential and the growing importance of AI and robotics, it is crucial to have comprehensive and well-thought-out regulations in place. The government should encourage more extensive collaboration with industry professionals and stakeholders to ensure a balanced approach that fosters innovation while addressing concerns.

Investing in AI education and research institutions can help develop a skilled workforce and attract AI-focused companies to the country. Furthermore, offering incentives and support for AI startups can promote technological advancements and boost the economy.

💡 Conclusion

The Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Society Bill has faced criticism from Kenya’s IT professionals due to the lack of involvement from stakeholders and concerns regarding its focus on regulating the robotics sector rather than addressing wider AI concerns. While Kenya shows promise in AI readiness, there is still room for improvement, both in terms of investment and collaborative regulatory efforts. By taking a comprehensive approach, Kenya can harness the power of AI and robotics to drive economic growth and technological innovation.

📱 Share your thoughts and opinions! Have you encountered any similar bills or regulations in your country? Let us know in the comments below! 🗣


Note: The above article is a rewrite and does not reflect actual events or circumstances. It is intended to showcase the requested writing style.