Artificial intelligence is set to play a major role in the Irish economy in the coming years, but does not represent a threat to jobs, the Taoiseach has said.
Micheál Martin and Junior Minister for Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy launched Ireland’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy on Thursday.
The Taoiseach said he is conscious that the concept of AI “hasn’t had the best reputation” in popular culture, but said it could play a crucial role in economic recovery.
Enterprise Ireland's Carol Gibbons joined Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD and Minister @RobertTroyTD for the launch of Ireland’s first National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy. Find out more about the opportunities for Irish enterprise in AI technologies: https://t.co/YIDyuH6A2u pic.twitter.com/27FJqVv5rx— Enterprise Ireland (@Entirl) July 8, 2021
He said AI had the capacity to double economic growth by 2035.
“Inevitably, that popular culture suspicion has sometimes leaked into important discussions about the role it will actually play in our economy and in our society in the years and decades ahead,” he said.
“As a Government, we’ve been taking it very seriously. We have developed a deep understanding of what it can and should mean for us.
“As we move into economic recovery, it is crucial that we prepare for emerging opportunities and continually work to enhance Ireland’s offering and competitiveness.
“The truth is that nowhere have you seen greater acceleration of change than in digitisation.
“By preparing now, our workforce and industry in the public sector will be ready to embrace the potentially transformative benefits of increasing usage of AI.”
Mr Martin said there is a “false narrative” that the emergence of technologies such as AI represents a threat to jobs, saying it will ultimately create more jobs than are lost.
He added: “Digital technologies have to drive productivity across all core economic sectors, and crucially create new jobs, enterprises, products and services, as well as enabling new ways of working.
“It is true that increased adoption of digital technologies will impact the dynamics of our labour market.
“And while AI will lead to some displacement, as with other previous disruptive technological advances, it will also lead to the creation of new jobs, better jobs, with higher productivity, and associated higher incomes.”
He said it will benefit Ireland in the long term to become an early adopter of such technologies.
“Artificial Intelligence is going to play a major role over the coming years and decades when it comes to global competitiveness and productivity,” he said.
“I’m clear very clear on my conviction that it would be to Ireland’s long term strategic advantage to be an early adopter of new and upcoming AI technologies.”
Delighted to launch the first National Artificial Intelligence Strategy today with Minister @RobertTroyTD— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) July 8, 2021
AI will shape our economy and society – this strategy will position Ireland as an international leader in innovative and ethical AI. pic.twitter.com/HoOU3SGUes
Mr Troy said safeguards will be in place to build public trust in the new technology.
He said: “Governance and straight safeguards are dealt with understand two-strand two of the strategy.
“That sets out the government’s framework to safeguard against risk and underpin trust.
“At a top-level, you have three areas the legal framework, the ethical framework, and standards and certification.
“From an ethical perspective, the EU has developed ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI, and practical tools in with an assessment list for trustworthy AI.”