“The output is only as good as the input,” said technology partner and head of AI Brian McElligott.
AI was a tool, rather than a replacement for human expertise, he added.
While AI had the capacity to execute tasks, it would always need human management, and the EU Artificial Intelligence Act reinforced this position, the conference heard.
The upcoming legislation also attempts to regulate ‘high-risk’ AI, and differentiates between various types of AI product.
Kenneth Cukier (deputy executive editor The Economist) said that humanity could now see beyond itself with the benefit of this new tool, but humanity also brought mental models to any task, and this was beyond the scope of AI.
“AI has no innate conception of the world, only what it learns from training data,” he said.
Therefore, its successes are due to human input.
AI is also "the worst it will ever be", the conference heard.
Data duty of care
If AI was making automated decisions, there must be human oversight and accountability, he added, particularly given they duty of care about people’s data.
"AI is transformational, with blessings and horrors. But humans are smarter. We can imagine new realities, while AI depends on past data. To flourish in the AI age, we need to get better at being human,” he commented.
An MH&C survey allied to the conference found that 71% of Ireland’s technology sector would use generative AI like ChatGPT in their business.
The survey also found that sales and marketing was the business function most likely to be affected by AI in the future (31%), followed by:
- Legal services (20%),
- Pharma and life sciences (16%),
- Sales and marketing (36%),
- Transport and logistics (15%), and
- HR / recruitment (13%).
When asked, 76% of technology companies said that they expected retaining talent (44%) and recruiting (32%) to be their biggest HR issues in the coming 12 months.
Just 11% expect redundancies to be the biggest HR issue they will face, with 13% identifying remote working as their greatest people challenge.
Flexible working would remain key to retaining and attracting talent, attendees heard.
Employment partner Ger Connolly noted that one in four employees in Ireland has come from outside the country. The system for obtaining a work permit and PPS number has also sped up dramatically, he said, and is now highly efficient.