By Mahlatse Unathi
What I am working on:
I am working as a data scientist at the CSIR, in the Nextgen Enterprises and Institutions cluster. Some of the projects that I have worked on include providing analytics on Twitter during the 2019 elections in South Africa, creating a generative model for assisting an autonomous system to see abnormalities during surveillance and a model for the generation of new battery materials.
Why it is important to get young people involved in projects/research of this nature:
The projects, in their nature, have the society in mind. Therefore, getting involved in these kinds of projects and research allows the youth to shape the future. In the past, we used to say that “the youth are the future of South Africa” and that can only happen when we get involved in the core needs of our nation. Working with big data allows us to help the government and private sector to make informed decisions backed by evidence. It gives us a platform to be part of the narrative in giving our nation a ‘facelift’ and boost in technological advances, which will result in a better South Africa for all.
Why the research is critical to our society’s benefit:
The autonomous surveillance system is very critical in situations that pose a real danger for humans to enter into. By using robots to monitor and report on abnormalities, the lives of miners, firefighters and other workers in dangerous fields can be made easier. Materials discovery is a lengthy process and it can take years to reach desirable material. However, with the use of machine learning tools, this process can be shortened significantly, allowing for innovation and saving resources. Decision making is an important task that many leaders are faced with on a regular basis, and data analytics has come to change the face of decision-making from being based on gut-feeling to an act based on facts.. It allows for consistency and continual growth, enabling decision makers to create new opportunities, predict future trends and produce insights that can be actionable.