The partnership between taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. and Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Robert Troy T.D., is significant. They launched Ireland’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy called “AI – Here for Good” in early July. AI is part of a suite of digital technologies that will drive productivity and competitiveness for Ireland for the next five years.
This strategy will serve as a roadmap for how Ireland can harness the potential of AI, both to unlock productivity, address social challenges and deliver public services. Ireland envisions itself as an international leader in the use of AI for the benefit of businesses, public services and individuals.
AI, economy and people
Micheál Martin T.D. has pointed out the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities that this technology offers to both society and the economy. This requires an ecosystem of innovation, excellence and trust. The impact of artificial intelligence on our lives is barely glimpsed, but its success is compelling. To reach that point, it is necessary to build trust and harness its economic benefit.
A comprehensive government approach is then needed and so put in place the enablers that are required. There must be a secure data infrastructure, connectivity and everything needed to ensure that people will be ready for AI. Robert Troy, for his part, has pointed out that AI has changed the way we learn, work and live, in different areas. But it is also helping us to address issues related to climate change, public health, education, etc.
The approach and approach to AI must happen in a way that is fair, transparent and builds public trust. And while the government will be responsible for facilitating and enabling “AI for Good”, it involves society at large. To this end, an AI ambassador will be appointed to promote awareness and engage the public and businesses about its potential.
First steps of IA in Ireland
Both representatives met with the founders of Field of Vision, which has created a device to help visually impaired people. Through AI, they manage to give them an immersive sports experience. It should be noted that Field of Vision won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur 2021 award. In addition, it participated in the 2021 Alsessor AI accelerator program at Tangent, TCD.
As Minister Troy mentioned, this is just the beginning, and it is hoped to achieve things that would have seemed impossible before. With this strategy, the Government is committed to creating an environment in which AI innovation can continue to thrive. This strategy is part of the Economic Recovery Plan for rapid job creation and economic growth post-pandemic. Ireland is expected to become an international hub leading responsible and ethical AI. That is, creating a greener, more productive and technologically responsive society and economy. And the National AI Strategy is expected to serve as a roadmap for achieving this.
A Digital Business Advisory Board will be established that, together with the government, will drive business adoption of digital technologies (and AI). It will include representatives from industry and business. But also people from the public sector and government agencies, academia and AI experts. In addition, an AI Innovation Hub will be established, as part of Ireland’s planned program of European Digital Innovation Hubs. It will be the first national stop for AI, providing expertise and guidance to businesses when adopting AI.
What is the AI strategy?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to machine-based systems with different levels of autonomy. And they can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, predict, recommend or make decisions using data. AI is expected to play an important role in global competitiveness and productivity in the coming decades. The AI strategy is set out in eight thematic lines:
- AI and society. Addressing the societal impacts of AI and seizing opportunities for it to solve societal challenges.
- A governance ecosystem that promotes trusted AI. By creating such an environment, AI will support innovation and respect ethical principles and human rights.
- Driving the adoption of AI in Irish businesses. Promoting the adoption of AI by Irish companies.
- AI in the service of the public. Public sector leadership in AI adoption.
- A strong AI innovation ecosystem. Innovate with AI for a supportive R&D&I ecosystem; understanding, development and implementation of AI at the enterprise level.
- AI education, skills and talent. Generate appropriate AI skills and education and ensure access to talent.
- A secure and supportive infrastructure for AI. Build a robust, secure and effective data, digital and connective infrastructure as a key enabler for AI.
- Strategy implementation.
This includes appointing an AI ambassador, as well as establishing an AI innovation center. In addition, provide expertise and guidance to companies in their AI adoption process. There should be an AI platform to drive collaboration between multinational companies and SMEs. Regarding the general public, there will be a consultation with children and youth on AI through Comhairle na nÓg.
AI test beds and experimentation facilities will also be established. There will be a consistent approach to AI adoption in the public service. In addition, an AI skills needs study conducted by experts on future skills needs. A framework for trusted data governance across the private sector and tools and methodologies for its implementation. Finally, greater availability of open government data and a roadmap of standards and assurance for AI.