12th July 2021
Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., and Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy T.D., have launched Ireland’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy, ‘AI – Here for Good’.
AI is part of a suite of digital technologies which will be critical drivers of productivity and competitive advantage for Ireland 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. 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.
Speaking at the launch, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D. said:
“An important opportunity exists to reap significant opportunities from AI for society and the economy, though an ecosystem of innovation, excellence and trust. This Artificial Intelligence Strategy presents a framework for achieving this across enterprise and the public sector, including through skills, infrastructure, and appropriate governance.”
In recognition of the wide-ranging effect AI will have on our lives, this Strategy considers AI from a number of perspectives: Building public trust in AI, Leveraging AI for economic and societal benefit, and Enablers for AI.
The strategy sets out a whole of Government approach to putting the necessary enablers in place to underpin AI adoption in enterprise and public services, including a supportive innovation ecosystem, a secure data and connectivity infrastructure, and policies to ensure that the workforce is prepared for the impact of AI.
Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy T.D. said:
“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. 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.”
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.
At the launch, the Taoiseach and Minister Troy met the founders of Field of Vision, three technology students who have created a device which assists people with visual impairments in an immersive sports experience, using AI. The Field of Vision founders won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur award for 2021, and participated in the 2021 Alsessor AI accelerator programme in Tangent, TCD.
Minister Troy added:
“This is just one example of how innovative Irish entrepreneurs are using AI to do things that would have seemed impossible a few years ago. I launched the Alsessor programme last February and I am very impressed with the achievements of Field of Vision, and the other entrepreneurs on the programme. With this AI strategy, Government is committed to building an environment where innovation in AI can continue to flourish.
“This Strategy is an important step in Ireland’s journey towards becoming a leading international hub for responsible and ethical AI. We want to use AI to help us in creating a greener, more productive, and technologically responsive economy and society, but we need to create the right conditions for the technology to flourish. The National AI Strategy will serve as a roadmap for achieving this.”
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
In welcoming the strategy, Enterprise Ireland’s Divisional Manager, ICT & International Services, Carol Gibbons said: “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. This is critical to driving the competitiveness and innovation of Irish businesses in international markets.”
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 recovery.