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As a Teen, She Loved Video Games. Now She's Using A.I. to Try to Quash Malaria

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Diagne helped create an award-winning networking app to meet others with similar interests.

Rokhaya Diagne, 25, a computer science major in Senegal, has channeled her teenage love for video games into a new passion: using artificial intelligence to help eradicate malaria.

Credit: Carmen Abd Ali/The New York Times

As a teen growing up in Senegal, Rokhaya Diagne would spend hours a day playing online computer games.

Now, her goals include using artificial intelligence (AI) to help the world eradicate malaria by 2030.

Video games, said Diagne, “gave me problem-solving skills.”

Diagne is at the center of overlapping phenomena on the African continent: a growing, educated middle class raising even more educated children who see technology as a tool for tackling some of the continent’s biggest problems.

Free online coding boot camps, robotics lessons, and lectures from top global universities are inspiring careers in engineering and seeding ideas for start-ups.

Diagne, now a computer science major at the Dakar American University of Science and Technology, founded a start-up called Afyasense (“afya” means “health” in Swahili) for her disease-detection projects using AI.

From The New York Times
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