SoapBox Labs’ Patricia Scanlon appointed Ireland’s first AI ambassador

10 May 2022

Patricia Scanlon, Ireland’s AI Ambassador and Minister of State Robert Troy, TD, pictured with schoolchildren. Image: Maxwell Photgraphy

Scanlon said she would work ‘to demystify AI’ and promote its positive impacts on Ireland’s future. Her appointment builds on the Government’s national AI strategy launched last year.

Dr Patricia Scanlon has today (10 May) been appointed by the Government as Ireland’s first AI Ambassador.

Scanlon is founder and executive chairperson of Dublin-based speech recognition tech company SoapBox Labs. She will take up her role immediately.

The appointment of an AI Ambassador is one of the provisions under the Irish Government’s national AI strategy, which was launched last year. The ‘AI – Here For Good’ strategy said it would focus on how technology can be used in human-centred and ethical ways to improve the lives of Irish people.

Commenting on her appointment, Scanlon said: “In my new role I look forward to working to demystify AI and promoting the positive impacts it can have in areas such as health, agriculture, transport and education. I also am excited to hear the views of young people about the role they believe AI should have in shaping their futures and the future of Ireland in the coming decades.”

She said she saw “a clear opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in advocating for and adopting an ethical approach to AI, that puts humans first”.

A key part of Scanlon’s role will be engagement with young people. A National Youth Assembly on AI will be convened in September 2022 in conjunction with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. This event will engage with young people on their attitudes, awareness and fears in relation to AI. It will also promote careers in technology.

As well as engaging with young people and working to improve understanding of AI, Scanlon will become a member of the Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum.

“As an AI developer, Dr Scanlon has used this powerful technology to help children to learn. She will draw on her experience and expertise as an Irish SME in the field to help to demystify artificial intelligence for people and for small businesses who may be hesitant to engage with AI,” said Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD.

“If we are to rebuild a resilient, future-proofed economy we must prepare for it and part of that is to start a national conversation to better understand technologies such as AI,” he concluded.

Last year, Scanlon stepped down as CEO of the company she founded in 2013. She was replaced by Dr Martyn Farrows, who joined SoapBox Labs in 2017 as COO.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.