Minister Troy Launches Citizens Assembly Focused on AI Innovation

12 November 2021

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy, opened a national conversation on Artificial Intelligence (AI) as part of the SFI ADAPT Centre’s Citizens’ Think-In initiative.  The multi-venue, interactive event explored the information we give to apps and home assistant devices and questioned whether we are giving away too much of our personal information for enough return.

Speaking at the event Minister Troy said: “Artificial Intelligence is one of the technologies with the greatest potential for transformation in all areas of productive activity, and with it there are significant opportunities for us to create the economy and the society we would like – greener, more productive, more competitive and more resilient. It is not a technology of the future; it is a technology of the here and now. It is changing the way we work and live, and opening up new ways to address problems in almost every field. Through its development and effective use, we can tackle some of the biggest social challenges – from climate change to healthcare.

“Now is the time, in the wake of the COVID crisis and with signs of economic recovery on the horizon, to look forward to the opportunities presented by AI and other disruptive technologies for building our economic and social recovery but we must be prepared for it. The National AI Strategy launched earlier this year sets out our roadmap to promote ethical, human-centred AI innovation and through the work and collaboration between all sectors of society from research centres, such as the ADAPT Centre, to the public sector and industry will help ensure the development of trustworthy AI systems. As one of many events being run this Science Week, I’m delighted to take part in this AI-focussed event with the ADAPT Centre and advanced technologies in manufacturing cluster (ATIM), where we can come together to explore the benefits and the potential challenges we might face with wider adoption of these technologies.”

We live in an increasingly connected world where people want their devices to stay connected.  However, companies track us through our mobile phones and the websites and apps we use as we navigate both the online and offline worlds. As a result, we leave a trail of personal information behind.  This information is then bought and sold by others and used to influence our choices online.

This event, which formed part of the broader Science Week calendar and SFI’s Creating our Future initiative, invited members of the public from across Ireland to join a physical event in one of four locations: Athlone; Cork; Maynooth; and Dublin.  For those who couldn’t join the physical event there was a hybrid option to join online.  All the locations were connected, and the discussion formed an all-Ireland conversation on Artificial Intelligence.

The event also drew interest from local business leaders from Mersus Technologies, Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR), and Sidero Technology Solutions who are embracing new technologies and new ways of working.

Speaking about the event, Laura Grehan of the ADAPT Centre said: “ADAPT’s citizens’ think-ins provide an informal forum through which Irish adults and AI researchers can discuss the potential opportunities, risks, challenges and benefits of emerging technology innovations to individuals and society. This Science Week think-in has helped us understand better public views on AI and identify future priorities for our research. We look forward to hosting more AI think-ins in the coming months and providing more opportunities for the public to contribute to this national conversation on AI.”

The event was facilitated by radio presenter Ronan Berry who hosts ‘Taking Care of Business’ on Midlands 103 FM.