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Getnet Aseffa

iCog Labs
CEO
Addis Adaba, Ethiopia
Getnet Assefa is a computer scientist and an ardent futurist who constantly ruminates on the startling capabilities of machines and their place in our future. The 34-year-old is the founder and chief executive officer of iCog Labs, Ethiopia’s first artificial intelligence lab based out of Addis Ababa. Launched in 2013, the research and development lab has collaborated with companies and non-profits worldwide to use technology to expand human capacities and improve lives.

Developers at iCog are engaged in projects from computational linguistics for African languages to developing robotics for educational purposes. Getnet and his team have developed a soccer and Einstein robot, and were involved in the creation of Sophia, the humanoid robot that was granted Saudi citizenship in 2017.

His work has not been without challenges that come in the form of frequent internet shutdowns in Ethiopia and limited funding. Regardless, Getnet says he’s trying to use AI as a springboard to make Ethiopia Africa’s next big tech hub; an ecosystem that isn’t just dependent on grants and donations but one that’s celebrated for invention and for “doing.”
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