Athlone Selected as Hub for National Conversation on Artificial Intelligence

22 October 2021

ADAPT researchers at TUS and the Advanced Technologies in Manufacturing (ATIM) cluster are collaborating to deliver an exciting programme of events as part of ADAPT’s ‘Discuss AI’ initiative to explore the world of artificial intelligence and how it will shape our future.

A key element of Discuss AI is a ‘citizens’ think-in’ on AI in the Radisson Hotel, Athlone, on 11 November 2021 as part of Science Week. Members of the public are invited to join local software companies, ADAPT researchers from TUS: Midlands (Athlone campus), to discuss everyday technology like voice assistants, smartphones and fitness trackers. What impact do these devices have on our lives and on society as a whole? What are the implications of emerging AI innovations such as these? Members of the public can join this discussion forum in person or online.

The majority of Irish people agree that those who will be directly affected by scientific research should have a say in how it develops, Discuss AI aims to do just that. The initiative is designed to bring together local technology business leaders and researchers to engage citizens of the Midlands in a conversation about AI and its impact on all our lives, from the devices we carry to how individuals can have more control over where our personal data ends up. The discussion outcomes of this session will aid researchers and tech leaders understand public opinion on technological advancements and can help steer the future direction of research in this area.

Discuss AI events will run in conjunction with Creating Our Future, a new Government-led initiative launched recently by Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Aimed at every section of society, it seeks to engage everyone in conversations in communities across the country, answering questions and generating ideas for research. As part of this Citizen Science initiative, Discuss AI seeks to engage with national public audiences in all aspects of human-centric AI to inform research and knowledge of how AI can impact our lives into the future. No previous knowledge of AI is required in order to participate.

Dr Niall Murray, an ADAPT-funded investigator based in TUS: Midlands (Athlone campus), said: “AI technologies are already a core component in many digital systems which serve us, adapting to individual needs to improve the user experience across a wide range of contexts such as notifications, learning and health applications among many others. As such, with any frontier technology, there are opportunities and challenges. At ADAPT, we are conscious that the choices technologists make as well as the way in which AI is governed will have effects on society. As researchers, we want to consider a wide range of inputs and perspectives into the advances of these new technologies. Discuss AI will give all people, regardless of their knowledge of AI, an opportunity to discuss and provide inputs into how it can impact our future.”

Speaking about the initiative, Caitríona Mordan, cluster manager at ATIM (Advanced Technologies in Manufacturing), said, “As technologies become more affordable, companies of all sizes are using AI to automate tasks, increase efficiencies and take their operations to a new level. The Midlands is home to some of the leading technology companies which provide solutions, such as AI, to support other companies grow. The tech companies from the cluster will help bring an industry perspective and facilitate the discussions between citizens and researchers during this event”.