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Irish-EU collaboration to offer ethics-focused AI master’s degree

10 Aug 2021

A collaboration between four EU countries, including Ireland, is developing an AI master’s degree that will be available for students in September 2022.

Ireland will play a significant part in plans to establish a new master’s degree course across Europe that will focus on human and ethical issues around AI.

CeADAR, Ireland’s national centre for applied data analytics and AI based at University College Dublin, will collaborate with researchers across Europe to develop the course.

The aim is to roll it out in September 2022. Irish students will be able to take the course at TU Dublin, and it will also be available at universities in The Netherlands, Italy and Hungary.

Dublin-based company Nathean Technologies is coming on board as the Irish industry partner for the three-year project, which started this year and has received €2.25m in EU funding. The total cost of the project is expected to be €3m.

Some areas being explored by researchers designing this new course include how to build AI systems that respect the privacy of individuals, the implications of AI on humans and how to retain humans’ control of AI.

Dr Oisín Boydell, principal data scientist at CeADAR, said the course and surrounding research would be important for our understanding of AI from an ethical point of view.

“AI is being used more and more in everyday life, it is becoming ubiquitous in our homes,” he commented.

“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.”

The idea is that master’s students will learn about AI from the researchers and SMEs involved in developing the programme. The collaboration between industry and research will also see those involved conducting surveys and running focus groups in an effort to establish what Europeans require in terms of AI expertise.

Trustworthy AI has been a key focus of the EU’s strategy in this area, while Ireland recently unveiled plans for a “people-centred, ethical approach to AI”.

“Europe is putting ethical requirements at the heart of AI development to protect the rights of the individual,” Boydell added.

“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.”

To make the material developed for the course as widely available as possible, materials will be published on an online platform during the project.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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