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Young people to kickstart national brainstorm on Artificial Intelligence

Youth delegates from across Ireland to discuss how they want the technology to shape the future

The National Youth Assembly on Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take place today at the Tangent Ideas Workspace in Trinity College Dublin.

The Assembly brings together youth delegates from across the country as well as guest delegates from Foróige, Spun Out, and Cork ETB to discuss AI and to present their recommendations to Government.

As part of the Assembly, delegates will take part in a series of workshops led by AI experts focussing on areas including ethics, trust, climate, health, education, and public services. 

Speaking at the National Youth Assembly on AI, Ireland’s AI Ambassador Dr Patricia Scanlon said:

“Just about every industry you can think of is being disrupted by technology and AI today. AI will continue to dominate technological advancements for the foreseeable future. Therefore it is all our responsibility to ensure we adopt an ethical approach to AI that puts humans first, in order for society to benefit from the innovations that AI can bring, in areas such as healthcare, education, climate change, while mitigating the risks. To that end, I am excited to engage with the National Youth Assembly to understand the attitudes, awareness and fears of the young attendees in relation to AI, as well as hear their views about the role they believe AI should have in shaping their futures and the future of Ireland in the coming decades.”

The National Youth Assembly is a key deliverable under the National AI Strategy: “AI – Here for Good” and a part of the Strategy’s broader objective around demystifying AI and building public trust in the technology as a force for societal good in Ireland. The Assembly is co-hosted by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.  The recommendations delivered by the National Youth Assembly delegates will help to inform Government policy developments in AI.

Speaking ahead of the National Youth Assembly, Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD said:

“Our young people are coming of age in an ever more digitally connected world, and so are often keenly aware of the uses and impacts of AI in our everyday lives in ways that others may not be.

“The National Youth Assembly offers us an opportunity for meaningful engagement with young people on the topic of AI, to hear their views on the benefits, challenges and concerns they have on this technology.

“AI has the potential to help us address some of our most significant environmental, societal and economic challenges, but if it is to do so it is essential that the public be able to trust in AI implementations in Ireland. It is my hope that engagement like this will help us to build that trust.”

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD said:

“I am very happy to support Minster Calleary in seeking the views of young people to inform Government policy on Artificial Intelligence. This is an issue that significantly impacts on young people. I would like to thank the young delegates to the National Youth Assembly of Ireland for giving their time to consider this policy and to make their recommendations to Government.”


Notes for editors

The National AI Strategy

The National AI Strategy was launched in 2021 and outlines the framework for how Ireland can harness the potential of AI in a way that builds confidence and trust, and which is accountable and acceptable for society. The whole-of-Government strategy sets objectives for increased productivity and better public service outcomes through the use of AI. It also sets out a roadmap for a secure and supportive enabling environment so that innovation and adoption of AI can thrive within an appropriate governance framework.

The AI Ambassador

Dr Patricia Scanlon was appointed Ireland’s first AI Ambassador in May 2022. The role of the AI Ambassador is to lead a national conversation on the role of AI in our lives, emphasising Ireland’s commitment to an ethical approach to the use of this technology and in particular its adoption by enterprise.

National Youth Assembly on Artificial Intelligence

A National Youth Assembly on Artificial Intelligence was convened for young people to make recommendations to the Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE). The Assembly is co-hosted by DETE and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 

The Government recognises the need to have meaningful engagement with the public on the development, governance and use of AI. The National AI Strategy is based on human rights and ethical principles, with an aim to listen to people’s views and embed AI in society in ways that respect and promote diversity, inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. This includes hearing the views of children and young people about AI. It was decided to convene a National Youth Assembly to fulfil this objective.

Assembly delegates deliberate on the issues affecting young people and provide their recommendations to Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation on the Government’s policy on Artificial Intelligence. The Minister will hear from the Assembly about the role, impact and understanding of AI in the lives of children and young people, and their opinions, thoughts and possible fears in relation to the technology and its potential.

A Preparation Session in advance of the Assembly allowed delegates to hear from experts and to ask questions so that they have sufficient information to form their views.

Recommendations from the Assembly will be considered by the Minister and DETE in light of the evolving policy direction of AI and its impact across a number of areas of Government.

Background on the National Youth Assembly of Ireland

The establishment of Youth Assemblies on a range of topics is a key commitment in the Programme for Government 2020. DCEDIY established the National Youth Assembly of Ireland to meet this commitment and collaborates closely with other Government Departments on convening Youth Assemblies on specific topics.

The main function of the National Youth Assembly is to provide a systematic means of capturing the voices of young people in Ireland and feeding this directly into Government policy. By hearing from young people, the National Youth Assembly of Ireland provides insight into some of the concerns facing young people and assists Government in acting on the potential solutions that young people propose.

The National Youth Assembly of Ireland is based on the approach of participation with purpose, based on Article 12 of the UNCRC, where children and young people are facilitated to exercise their right to express their views and to have their views given due weight. The structure and proceedings of the National Youth Assembly is based on the Lundy Model of Participation in which children and young people are given:

  • Space: safe, inclusive opportunities to form and express their views
  • Voice: facilitation to express their views
  • Audience: their views are listened to
  • Influence: their views are acted upon, as appropriate

Youth Assembly delegates range in ages from 12 to 24 years and come from all across Ireland. 30 young people were selected to sit on the National Youth Assembly of Ireland for a term of 18 months, the return to in-person Assemblies has meant that this number has now been extended to 50. Sitting delegates are nominated by Comhairle na nÓg (Local Youth Councils) and by established youth organisations. These are joined at each Assembly by a number of guest delegates, nominated by established organisations, who have a special interest in specific topics being addressed.

The National Youth Assembly convenes up to four times a year, on different policy areas. Earlier this year, the National Rural Youth Assembly (July) convened in collaboration with the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) and the National Youth Assembly on Climate (March) convened in collaboration with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).  Reports detailing deliberations, discussions and recommendations from the delegates at these Assemblies will be published in Q4 2022.

AI Experts at the National Youth Assembly

Dr Patricia Scanlon – AI Ambassador and Founder and Executive Chair, Soap Box Labs

Professor Barry O’Sullivan – Director, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, School of Computer Science and IT, University College Cork

Professor Patricia Maguire – Professor, School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, University College Dublin

Professor Andrew Parnell – Hamilton Professor, Hamilton Institute, Maynooth University

Greg Tarr – Founder, Interfex and BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition Winner 2021

Barry Lowry – Government Chief Information Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Anthony Kilcoyne – Deputy Director for Digital Technologies, Professional Development Services for Teachers

Dr Susan Leavy – Assistant Professor, School of Information and Communication, University College Dublin