knowledge | 15 July 2021 |

“Here for Good”- Welcoming Ireland’s New National AI Strategy

The Government’s publication of the long awaited National Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Ireland follows the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on Artificial Intelligence and is a key milestone that will enable Ireland to position itself as a focal point for innovative tech and AI developments.

With emphasis on the need for a people-centred, ethical approach to create an AI-friendly environment, “AI: Here for Good, A National Artificial Intelligence Strategy for Ireland” (the “Strategy”), seeks to exploit AI in a positive way to retain Ireland’s global competitiveness and future productivity. The Strategy has three main points of focus:

  • Building public trust in AI;
  • Leveraging AI for economic and societal benefit; and
  • Enablers for AI.

The Strategy is separated into eight strands. These discuss the following:

Strand 1: AI and Society

Establishing how AI can be used for societal good and sustainability in areas such as health, social inclusion and environment, to build public trust through awareness campaigns and increase public participation in discussions on AI development and governance.

Strand 2: A Governance Ecosystem that Promotes Trustworthy AI

Shaping governance and regulation in a manner appropriate for AI use, entailing enforcing EU governance rules, reviewing and updating existing regulations, and introducing compliance standards and certifications to underpin legal and ethical obligations.

Strand 3: Driving Adoption of AI in Irish Enterprise 

Identifying opportunities for businesses and promoting AI in enterprise, increasing adoption of AI, through an Enterprise Digital Advisory Board and National AI Digital Innovation Hub to provide expertise and guidance to businesses on their AI journey.

Strand 4: AI serving the Public

As increased AI adoption can benefit the public in the health, justice and agriculture sectors, for example, considering the adoption of AI in the public service with a focus on appropriate safeguards required to ensure a secure system for AI development.

Strand 5: A Strong AI Innovation Ecosystem

Creating a strong Irish ecosystem for high-quality and responsible AI research and innovation, leveraged to promote Ireland as a hub for AI talent and innovation.

Strand 6: AI Education, Skills and Talent

Acknowledging that AI development will lead to some job changes and job gains, the Strategy commits to ensuring workers can access opportunities to upskill or re-skill to adapt to the changes, with suitable protections from the threat of AI deepening existing inequalities.

Strand 7: A Supportive and Secure Infrastructure for AI

On the basis that a strong national approach is required for building and maintaining trust in AI systems, the National Cyber Security Centre will play a prominent and evolving role in protecting our ecosystem from threats and loss of sensitive data.

Strand 8: Implementation of the Strategy

To build public trust in AI via an AI Ambassador, and to drive standards through a Top Team on Standards for AI, with ongoing review to adapt to rapidly evolving technology changes.

Analysis

The Strategy signals and seeks to build upon the centrality of AI for Irish society and business, crucial to the development of the science and technology sectors which will lead to investment and innovation.  Education and training must respond to the new digital skills transformation and enterprise will be at the forefront of this, building on an essential Government commitment to support training and create jobs in this sector.

The emphasis on driving the adoption of AI across Irish enterprise through collaboration between industry and academic research, and between SMEs and multinationals, is welcome, and should create many opportunities for innovators within the strong rubric of the European Commission’s intended regulatory structures under the AI Act, which seeks to set consistent standards for AI products across the EU.

As members of IBEC’s AI Advisory Forum, we look forward to continuing to work with colleagues across the private and public sectors to ensure effective and successful implementation of the Strategy.

Also contributed by Bailey Lane and Jonathan Murchan.

This briefing is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.

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