Ireland’s first national artificial intelligence strategy ‘AI – Here for Good’ aims to see Ireland leverage the potential for unlocking productivity and addressing societal challenges.

The Irish Government has launched a new National AI Strategy to drive competitive advantages for the country over the next five years.

The National AI Strategy will serve as a roadmap for how Ireland can leverage the potential of AI for unlocking productivity, for addressing societal challenges, and for delivering public services.

“This is critical to driving the competitiveness and innovation of Irish businesses in international markets”

It envisions a future for Ireland as an international leader in using AI to the benefit of business, public services, and – most importantly – for people, through a people-centered, ethical approach to AI development, adoption and use.

Reap the opportunities of AI

Two men and a woman holding a report.

From left: Ken Finnegan, CEO, Tangent Centre, Carol Gibbons, Divisional Manager, ICT & International Services, Enterprise Ireland and Minister Robert Troy

“An important opportunity exists to reap significant opportunities from AI for society and the economy, though an ecosystem of innovation, excellence and trust,” said Taoiseach Micheál Martin, TD.

“This Artificial Intelligence Strategy presents a framework for achieving this across enterprise and the public sector, including through skills, infrastructure, and appropriate governance.”

Among several strategic cross-government actions to build public trust in AI, Government will appoint an AI ambassador, to promote awareness and increase understanding among the public and businesses of the potential that AI offers.

“AI is all around us and already changing how we learn, work and live: from how we shop and bank online, to how we use the apps on our phones,” Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy, TD.

“AI is helping us address some of the biggest challenges facing us – in areas such as climate action, public health, education and there is potential for so much more. Now is the time to put a coherent approach to AI in place to make sure that happens in a manner that is fair, transparent and builds public trust. While Government will play a key role in facilitating and enabling AI for Good, this is a journey involving all of society because if we are to really embrace the opportunity of AI, Ireland’s approach must ensure people, ethics and trust are central to its deployment and use.”

Powering digital transformation

Digital transformation, including the adoption of AI, across the enterprise base is a core focus for Government particularly for SMEs and the regional ecosystem.

An Enterprise Digital Advisory Board will be established to advise and work with Government to drive enterprise adoption of digital technologies, including AI.

Membership of the Board will include representatives from industry and business, the public sector and government agencies, academia and AI experts. Furthermore, an AI Innovation Hub, as part of Ireland’s planned programme of European Digital Innovation Hubs, will be established to act as a National First Stop for AI, providing expertise and guidance to enterprises on their AI adoption journey.

The AI strategy is a deliverable under the Economic Recovery Plan, which was launched on 1 June. The Economic Recovery Plan has been developed by Government to achieve rapid job creation and economic growth after the pandemic, with the objective of exceeding the pre-crisis employment levels of 2.5 million people in work by 2024. The plan is focused on getting people back to work, re-building sustainable enterprises, and fostering a balanced and inclusive recover.

“Enterprise Ireland welcomes this national AI Strategy as it poses significant benefits and opportunities for Irish enterprise in both the adoption and deployment of AI technologies,” Enterprise Ireland’s Divisional Manager, ICT & International Services, Carol Gibbons said.

“This is critical to driving the competitiveness and innovation of Irish businesses in international markets.”

8 ways AI can supercharge Ireland’s future

The AI strategy is set out in eight thematic strands:

1: AI and Society

Addressing societal impacts of AI and seizing opportunities for AI to solve societal challenges.

2: A governance ecosystem that promotes trustworthy AI

Designing a responsible and responsive governance environment for AI that supports innovation and respects ethical principles and human rights.

3: Driving adoption of AI in Irish enterprise

Promoting AI adoption by Irish enterprise.

4: AI Serving the Public

Public Sector leadership in adoption of AI.

5: A strong AI innovation ecosystem

Innovating with AI for a supportive RDI ecosystem; enterprise-level understanding, development and deployment of AI.

6: AI Education, Skills and Talent

Generating appropriate skills and education for AI and ensuring access to talent.

7: A supportive and secure infrastructure for AI

Building a robust, secure and effective data, digital and connective infrastructure as a key enabler for AI.

8: Implementation of the strategy

Key Deliverables

  • Appointment of an AI ambassador
  • Establishment of an AI Innovation Hub, to act as a National First Stop for AI; providing expertise and guidance to enterprises on their AI adoption journey;
  • An AI programme for enterprise of targeted funding and advisory measures for AI adoption;
  • A national AI cluster or platform to drive collaboration between MNCs and SMEs;
  • Consultation with children and young people about AI through Comhairle na nÓg;
  • Establishment of AI testbeds and experimentation facilities;
  • A coherent approach to public service AI adoption;
  • A study of AI skills needs by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs;
  • A framework for trustworthy data governance across the private sector and tools and methodologies to apply the framework;
  • Increased availability of open Government data; and
  • A standards and assurance roadmap for AI.

Main image at top (from left): Carol Gibbons, Divisional Manager, ICT & International Services, Enterprise Ireland; Taoiseach Micheal Martin; Omar Salem, Tim Farrelly and David Deneher, co-founders of Field of Vision and winners of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards 2021; Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD and Ken Finnegan, CEO, Tangent

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 9 July 2021

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