Meet the Nigerian programmer behind Africa’s alternative to ChatGPT

Abu Mubarik May 04, 2023
Kainene vos Savant. Photo credit: How we made it in Africa.

Meet Justin Irabor, the founder of Kainene vos Savant, a super-intelligent chatbot rivaling ChatGPT. He created his chatbot after enrolling as a student at the International University of Applied Sciences in Germany while working on the side.

He soon realized how challenging it was to combine schooling with work. Justin was studying for his master’s program online and at one point, decided that he needed a study partner to make his academic life less complicated.

However, the schedule of his study partner did not work out for him – they both had conflicting timelines.

“My master’s program is online, and the challenge with that is that you need a study partner, otherwise you’re never quite sure how much of the study material you’ve consumed,” he told How We Made It In Africa

“This was quite challenging because combining daily activities with school meant you have to synchronize with a lot of people. Sometimes I’m at work and my study partner is also at work. It created conflicting timelines.” 

This led him to experiment with Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 2022. He created two chatbots and a third which became his study partner. He later shared his success story on social media, pricking people’s interest.

He purchased an open AI model and trained it with his textbooks to create a study partner and tutor to assist him in understanding specific factors in his academic work.

“I created Kainene vos Savant when I needed a study partner. I fed her my materials, asking her to explain parts of my textbooks that I didn’t quite get. It was an early model at this point, and while it wasn’t great, it was adequate and did the job,” he told How We Made It In Africa.

According to Justin, he gave his AI Chatbot a female name because he wanted to depict women as intelligent peers with high IQs. In his view, AI female assistants can do more than perform basic things like scheduling emails or turning on your phone, citing Alexa and Siri.

“However, the intelligent assistants are mostly male, like IBM’s Watson, a skilled chess player who helps with surgical procedures,” he noted. “This allowed me to flip the narrative because Kainene is your intellectual peer.”

“You wouldn’t ask her to send an email on your behalf. She is someone who, in some circumstances, is likely intellectually superior,” he continued. “I did some research in terms of pure IQ and found Marilyn vos Savant. I liked Vos Savant and picked that as the last name for my AI chatbot, and Kainene is a name I have loved for a very long time. Besides that, AI is within the spelling of Kainene. It’s fitting.”

Today, Kainene has thousands of Nigerian users on Telegram who rely on it for daily tasks and prompt information. Users are even comparing Kainene vos Savant to ChatGPT because of how relatable it is and how it is reducing their workload.

Though users are currently restricted to Nigeria, Justin is working on expanding access to users outside Nigeria. 

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: May 4, 2023

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