The Artificial Intelligence (AI) strand of our Stronger Together programme aims to develop specialised skills that will enable young leaders to design AI-based solutions responding to social and climate challenges.
In 2022–23, a series of activities took place in Ireland and around Europe, including focus groups, face-to-face hackathon events, panel events, a study visit and a policy dialogue. In Ireland these activities were conducted in partnership with National College of Ireland.
Building on this success, in 2023–24, British Council Ireland organised another face-to-face hackathon-style event coinciding with similar events in Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, and Milton Keynes. At these events young people explored how Artificial Intelligence can serve as a tool to mitigate climate change and generate creative ideas centered around the theme of Green Cities.
The hackathon took place in Ireland on 1 and 2 November 2023, in partnership with the British Embassy in Dublin, Munster Technological University and ADAPT Research Centre. For more information on this AI Hackahton please visit this page.
Green Cities is the theme of this year’s hackathon events. Participants of these events are invited to generate creative ideas aimed at improving people’s lives in urban areas by making them more sustainable and eco-friendlier.
Our UK expert
Our trainer, Mike Lloyd, is a leading expert in technology and will assist teams in facilitating these ideas and transforming them into real solutions based on AI. Mike is a Technology leader, and Fellow of the British Computer Society. His passion lies in democratising Deep Tech. Mike started his career in engineering, spent a decade teaching in schools and at the Open University, then held a senior international position at Microsoft for over a decade. In September 2013, Mike founded learn-tech.io, a London-based technology start-up, with a focus on developing learning solutions in AI, Internet of Things, and climate change mitigation. Mike is the author of “Schooling at the Speed of Thought” - a guide to transforming education, and has designed numerous courses, including “AI Demystified”, “AI for Leaders” and “Digital Technology Demystified”. He is also the inventor of ZEP Island, an educational game that helps people learn how technology and data can be used to mitigate climate change.
Study visit trip in Bristol, UK
Winning teams of the hackathon events will be awarded with a study visit trip to Bristol, one of the leading sustainable cities in the UK (March 2024). Bristol was the first British city to be named European Green Capital, an award that celebrates and promotes innovative responses to urban environmental challenges. The winning teams from the hackathon events will have the opportunity to visit relevant institutions and projects, gaining inspiration and expanding their knowledge about practices of AI solutions for sustainable urban living. Participants will also meet the winning teams from other countries where hackathons took place, facilitating idea exchange and networking.
One international youth-policy dialogue event
During the study visit to Bristol, participants will be invited to join a Youth-Policy dialogue event. Here, they will engage with experts in AI, sustainability, social impact, including policy makers, researchers, companies, and academics. The purpose of this event is to explore the potential of Artificial Intelligence in creating social value and to initiate discussions about the role of youth as leaders for social change and drivers of the new technological era.
'Can AI be a Force for Good?' Keynote and Panel Discussion
On 27 September 2023 National College of Ireland, in partnership with British Council Ireland, hosted a keynote speech and panel discussion in which speakers from industry and academia, with technological, commercial and social enterprise expertise, addressed the question: how can AI be a force for good?
The panel was moderated by producer and broadcaster Malcolm Love, the panel includes Dr Maxine Mackintosh, Genomics England; Dr. Dónal Fullam, Creative Cultural Industries at Creative Futures Academy; Deirdre O’Neill, Enterprise Ireland; Dr Paul Stynes, Dean of School of Computing in NCI; His Excellency Akhilesh Mishra, Indian Ambassador to Ireland.
At the panel we were also fortunate to welcome Minister Simon Harris, Ireland's Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
On the 13th and 14th of March 2023 National College of Ireland, in partnership with British Council Ireland, hosted an AI Hackathon for the common good, focused on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and co-organised by Dr Anu Sahni, Musfira Jilani and Michael Bradford, with the support of the Dean of the School of Computing, Dr Paul Stynes; Commercial Manager, Bertie Kelly and many faculty who came to offer guidance and support to the students.
Three teams chose to focus on air pollution as the topic had existing data sets to work with and it related to three SDGs: Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and Goal 13 (Climate Action). A fourth team proposed a Mammoscan app to assist with early diagnosis of breast cancer in places where it is more difficult to access medical check-ups, whether that is because of financial or logistical impediments, addressing Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-being) and Goal 10 (reduced inequalities).
The winning team also addressed Goals 3 and 10, with a project called Little Life that could be used, again, where it is more difficult to access medical care, but also link in with GPs and hospitals, described a system that would monitor key health indicators of a pregnancy (both maternal and foetal) and raise the alarm early if the overall 'score' was outside of healthy parameters, ensuring medical intervention would be sought in good time.
These data-driven projects each had a machine learning component, so that the systems would continue to learn and increase in accuracy as they gathered more real-time data.
Online Policy Dialogue
In partnership with business, research and innovation partners, our Online Policy Dialogue ‘Stronger Together | Artificial Intelligence for the Common Good’ held on 7 March 2023 provided a platform for exchange between young leaders and national, European and international policy makers on the critical challenges and best practices in the field.
We were pleased to host Jack Watson, Head of AI Skills and Workforce, Office for AI, Department for Science, Innovation & Technology; Jim Dratwa, Ethics in Science and New Technologies, European Commission and Secretary-General of the EC International Dialogue on ethics and bioethics; Emine Yilmaz, Professor of Computer Science and Alan Turing Fellow, University College London and Amazon Science Scholar; and James Bridge, Secretary-General and Chief Executive UK National Commission for UNESCO.
The panel was moderated by Dr John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair in AI, IRCAI Director, Professor at University College London and Director of the Centre for Computational Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML).