Barry O’Sullivan wins European award for AI contributions

3 Oct 2023

Image: Barry O'Sullivan

O’Sullivan has made significant contributions to the field of constraint programming and is an outspoken academic within the international AI community.

Prof Barry O’Sullivan, one of Ireland’s leading experts in artificial intelligence (AI), has just been recognised at the European level for his contributions to the field.

The European Association for Artificial Intelligence, also known as EurAI, has handed O’Sullivan the EurAI Distinguished Service Award 2023 in a ceremony in Kraków this week, making him the first Irish person to receive the award. He is a fellow and former president of EurAI.

One of the most recognisable figures in Ireland’s AI space, O’Sullivan is a full professor at the School of Computer Science in University College Cork (UCC), where he has worked for more than 26 years and is a member of the governing body.

O’Sullivan is also founding director of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at UCC and director of the SFI Centre for Research Training in Artificial Intelligence.

Elected a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence last year, O’Sullivan has made significant contributions to the field of constraint programming and is an outspoken academic within the broader international AI community.

He is a recipient of one of the top computer science prizes in the world, the Nerode Prize, and has also helped launch a free online course called Elements of AI at Silicon Republic’s Future Human event in 2020.

“I’m honoured to become the first Irish person to receive the European Artificial Intelligence Association’s Distinguished Service Award,” O’Sullivan wrote on LinkedIn today (3 October). “Such a wonderful ceremony at the European Conference on AI in Kraków this week.”

Earlier this year, when some organisations such as the Center for AI Safety were worried about AI causing human extinction and posing a threat as potent as pandemics and nuclear war, O’Sullivan said this so-called existential threat narrative is “at best, irresponsible”.

“It distracts from the important and real issues around the deployment of AI technologies,” he told in June.

“These include how AI systems can amplify human bias to the detriment of individuals and society, as well as ensuring that AI-enabled decision-making is fair, transparent and accountable.”

O’Sullivan argued that the humanity-level risks we need to be concerned about are “clearly set out” under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as climate change, global poverty and the protection of human rights.

“In this respect, statements about the existential threats to humanity posed by AI are tone-deaf,” he added.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic