Ireland is at the heart of Europe’s AI skills strategy

Ireland is at the centre of a unique €3m European collaboration on artificial intelligence, spearheading plans to establish a new AI Master’s degree in four corners of Europe.

Irish-based academics are central to a major collaborative project across Europe to design a new Master’s programme in artificial intelligence (AI) that addresses human and ethical issues around AI.

Some areas being explored include how to build AI systems that respect the privacy of individuals, the implications of AI on humans and how to keep humans in control of AI.

“AI is being used more and more in everyday life; it is becoming ubiquitous in our homes”

The three-year project started this year and has received EU funding of €2.25m from the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) through the Connecting Europe Facility funding instrument. The total cost of the project is expected to be €3m.

The unique project aims to develop and design a Master’s degree programme to be delivered at universities in the four corners of Europe – in Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy and Hungary.  The pan-European collaboration includes four universities (one in Ireland), three centres of excellence (one in Ireland) and three technology companies.

Implications of AI

Ireland is front and centre of the project with Technological University Dublin and CeADAR, Ireland’s national centre for Applied Data Analytics and AI based at University College Dublin (UCD), both key members. Dublin-based Nathean Technologies Ltd is one of the industry partners.

The aim is for the Master’s to be rolled out in September 2022 at the four universities – TU Dublin, Hogeschool Utrecht in The Netherlands, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II in Italy and Budapest University of Technology and Economics – BME, in Hungary.

Each university will offer the MSc Programme in the academic year 2022/23 and award a degree separately.

“AI is being used more and more in everyday life; it is becoming ubiquitous in our homes,” said Dr Oisín Boydell, principal data scientist at CeADAR.

“As the integration is so rapid, we need to be examining the implications of all this technology on the end users – humans. We are good at looking at the technical side of AI, but we also need to understand, from a human-focus, why we are using this AI and put humans in control of it.  

“Europe is putting ethical requirements at the heart of AI development to protect the rights of the individual. The target for this programme is to develop graduates who can apply cutting-edge AI technology with Human Centred principles built in from the beginning. Graduates of this programme will provide an advantage to early adopters of ethical AI approaches.”

Boydell added that the content of the curriculum will link technology, organisation, people and ethics based in real industry experience.

Partners involved will be conducting surveys across Europe and creating focus groups to understand what is needed by the marketplace.

The delivery of the MSc will also be a collaboration as the university partners will teach the students but the Excellence centres and SMEs will also play an active part in the course delivery. T

To make the material developed for the MSc programme as widely available as possible, materials will be published on the online Digital Skills and Jobs Platform during the project.

As well as CeADAR, the other excellence centres involved are the National Research Council of Italy and Fondatsiya Evropreyski Softueren Institut – Tsentar Iztochna Evropa in Bulgaria. The industry partners involved are Real AI B.V. (NL) and Nathean Technologies Ltd (IRL) and the Citel Group Srl (IT).

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.