Second Centre primer series: Introduction to AI

18 April 2024. Are you curious about the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on our lives? The UCD Centre for Digital Policy Studies has created a video series that explores the key policy opportunities and challenges presented by AI. With insights from experts in academia, law, industry, politics, and policy, including Minister Dara Calleary T.D.; AI Ambassador, Patricia Scanlon; Dr. Susan Leavy from UCD; and Government AI Advisory Council member, Barry Scannell. This video series delves into the latest developments, ethical considerations, and potential applications of AI.

#1 Introduction to AI

AI Ambassador Patricia Scanlon engages in a discussion with Professor Susan Leavy about the latest developments in the ongoing ‘AI spring’. They provide a brief overview of the newest area of AI, Generative AI, which is supported by Foundation Models and is demonstrating remarkable capabilities in domains previously considered exclusive to humans. Furthermore, they emphasise the potential of AI to transform fields like healthcare and education, contingent upon our ability to comprehend its functions adequately and mitigate associated risks.

#2 AI and Society; Ethics and Bias

Professor Elizabeth Farries and post-doctoral researcher, Thompson Kwarkye, discuss ethical considerations that accompany development and deployment of AI systems. Through a wide range of issues, from data bias and data transparency to fairness, diversity and accountability, they provide a general outline of contemporary ethical challenges that are facing software engineers, policymakers and scholars. Additionally, regulatory initiatives by supranational organisations (such as the UN and the EU) are examined to provide an overview of contemporary policymaking efforts to address these issues.

#3 Potential Applications of AI

Minister Dara Calleary and Kieran McCorry, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Ireland, outline the applications of AI that have the potential to revolutionise fields such as education, public administration, and the justice system. Ireland’s National AI strategy, aligned with EU guidelines, is geared towards welcoming and fostering these opportunities. Furthermore, they discuss Microsoft’s educational program, Dreamspace, as an essential component of the upskilling process for both new and older generations to fully harness the benefits of AI.

#4 AI and Sustainability

Una Fitzpatrick, Director Technology Ireland at IBEC, is engaging with AI’s impact on sustainable development. AI systems require significant amounts of energy but, at the same time, they can be instrumental in achieving climate and sustainability goals. Una Fitzpatrick discusses mitigation strategies such as the shift of data centers to renewable energy as part of the Net Zero by 2030 goal. Furthermore, AI offers the potential of optimization of decision-making processes in order to improve water and food management and maximise efficiency in agriculture and, subsequently, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

#5 Evolution of Large Language Models and Generative AI

AI Advisory Council member Barry Scannell and Stephen Dowling, founder of TrialView, discuss Generative AI and Large Language Models in relation to the legal system and the EU’s AI Act. During their discussion, they outline the recently ratified AI Act, discussing its prohibitions and its potential impact on European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Additionally, they examine the potential transformation of the legal and court system through the introduction of AI systems; with an unprecedented volume of data now available for processing, lawyers as well as citizens themselves have new capabilities for dispute resolution and legal representation.

Our thanks to Microsoft for supporting the development of this video series.

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