BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
FORMER deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara has been appointed executive director and full professor of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge (IFK) at the University of Johannesburg.
The IFK is a cross-disciplinary ecosystem — an epistemological interface between the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the Humanities.
The IFK comprises six research groups; Data Science Across Disciplines (DSAD), Decentralised Artificial Intelligence and Control Systems (DAICS), Metaphysics and Machines (MnM), the Future of Health (FoH), Green Futures (GF) and the Future of Diplomacy (FoD).
The robotics professor is also expected to steer the establishment of the DAICS research group.
Further research areas Mutambara will champion at the IFK include law and technology, digital sovereignty, the future of work, AI and medicine, climate change and 4IR, new ontology (post Humanism) and the Unified Theory of Everything.
“Today’s global problems, challenges and ambitions are complex and interconnected. They cannot be solved in the traditional academic silos but through a multidisciplinary ecosystem approach,” Mutambara is quoted saying on the UJ website.
“It cannot be business as usual in the academy. Equally critical, the products of Higher Education — the graduates — must go through blended learning and be capable of critical and structured thinking.
“They must master how to think and develop problem-solving capacity anchored in multidisciplinary ecosystem thinking.
“The students must learn how to learn. They must acquire specific and key competencies and capabilities that will make them employable.”
Mutambara is expected to lead UJ’s future-oriented research in South Africa, the continent and globally.
His other areas of consultancy, research and advisory work to private and public entities include the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and corresponding technological advancements in the areas of distributed networks, AI, automation and instrumentation; thriving under and beyond Covid-19; and mechatronics, robotics and controls.
As an academic, Mutambara has lectured in UJ’s mechanical engineering and electrical and electronic engineering departments, where he has received outstanding reviews from both students and peers.
In 2007, Mutambara was accorded the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader status.
From 2015 to 2017, Mutambara was the president of the African News Agency (ANA) where his primary mandate included media technology innovation, digital platform development, and harnessing social media tools.