Ireland’s national AI strategy to take ‘people-centred, ethical’ approach

8 Jul 2021

Minister Robert Troy, TD, with Stevie the robot. Image: Julian Behal

The Irish Government’s new artificial intelligence strategy puts a major focus on education, enterprise and ethics.

Following calls for a public policy to be developed, the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment released a new national AI strategy today (8 July).

‘AI – Here for Good’ outlines the Government’s plans for Ireland to become a global leader in artificial intelligence to benefit our economy and society, with a “people-centred, ethical approach to AI development, adoption and use”.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD, wrote in the strategy report’s foreword that everybody should benefit from the development of AI in Ireland.

“The national AI strategy will serve as a roadmap to an ethical, trustworthy and human-centric design, development, deployment and governance of AI to ensure Ireland can unleash the potential that AI can provide. This will ensure we not only recover from the pandemic, but prosper as a modern, dynamic and ambitious nation.”

‘AI is all around us and already changing how we learn, work and live’

The policy is built around eight strands, each containing a set of recommendations for the implementation of an AI strategy, with particular emphasis on AI education, promoting the adoption of AI tools by Irish enterprise, as well as building a strong AI ecosystem that is public-serving and trustworthy.

Over the coming years, the strategy will involve the creation of an AI ambassador whose role will involve promoting AI as a positive resource for all sections of society. The ambassador will also promote various AI public education initiatives.

An AI innovation hub will provide businesses that want to adopt AI tools with the information and resources they will need, and an Enterprise Digital Advisory Board will be established to develop a national AI cluster platform, which aims to drive collaboration between businesses and increase their productivity.

Internationally, Ireland will commit to joining the Global Partnership on AI as well as continuing to take part in EU discussions to define a horizontal regulatory framework for trustworthy AI.

In the hope that Ireland will become known as a centre for talent in AI research and development, the Government will look to identify any areas where researchers might be able to collaborate both in Ireland and abroad.

AI will also be considered in the context of education, with higher education institutions encouraged to deliver relevant education courses and employers urged to expand workplace-focused AI upskilling and reskilling. This will include apprenticeships, Solas programmes, Skillnet Ireland training programmes and enterprise partnership schemes.

“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,” Troy said at the launch of the strategy earlier today.

“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.”

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