Microsoft: AI Empowers Ireland's Remote Communities with New Tools - Blockchain.News

Microsoft: AI Empowers Ireland's Remote Communities with New Tools

Rebeca Moen Jun 17, 2024 17:50

Microsoft's Skill Up Ireland initiative brings AI training to Inishbofin, benefiting innkeepers, weavers, and florists.

Microsoft: AI Empowers Ireland's Remote Communities with New Tools

In a significant move to bridge the digital divide, Microsoft's Skill Up Ireland initiative is making AI training accessible to all corners of Ireland, including its most remote communities. According to Microsoft, the initiative aims to equip islanders with essential AI skills to enhance their businesses and daily operations.

AI Reaches Inishbofin

On the western Irish isle of Inishbofin, residents like Andrew Murray, the general manager of the Doonmore Hotel, are embracing AI to streamline their work processes. Murray, who manages a 22-room hotel, plans to use AI tools like Microsoft Copilot to handle administrative tasks such as scheduling, inventory management, and invoicing. "The power of AI to save time is what interests me the most," said Murray. "Time is the most precious thing we have."

The AI Skill-Up-A-Thon, presented by Microsoft in partnership with Galway County Council and Fastrack into Technology (FIT), introduced participants to the fundamentals and practical applications of AI. The training aims to demystify AI and make it accessible to everyone, regardless of their technical background.

Empowering Local Artisans

Catherine O’Connor, a weaver inspired by the natural colors of Inishbofin, initially had reservations about the AI training but found it surprisingly engaging. She uses Copilot to craft compelling descriptions for her Instagram and website, making it easier to market her handmade products. "Before, I would spend a long time finding the right words. Now, with AI, it’s much easier," she said.

Similarly, Patricia Concannon, a local florist, uses Copilot to enhance her website and social media posts. "I was dreading the training because of my poor computer skills, but it was very accessible," she noted.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Uinsinn Finn, Director of Services for Galway County Council, emphasized the importance of extending digital skills to rural areas. "Eighty percent of Galway County's population lives outside towns and villages. We aim to support these communities and prevent depopulation by providing digital connectivity and skills," he said.

The initiative also aims to prepare Ireland's workforce for the future, with a focus on upskilling and reskilling. Kevin Marshall, Head of Learning & Skills for Microsoft Ireland, highlighted the rapid development of AI and the need for widespread education. "With the acceleration of generative AI, there’s a real need to teach people what this is and demystify it," he said.

A New Chapter for Inishbofin

For the residents of Inishbofin, AI represents a new chapter in their long history of adaptation and resilience. Audrey Murray, a felt artist and special-needs assistant, sees AI as a tool that can enhance the quality of life on the island. "AI has to be another step, bringing us closer to the world and bringing the world here," she remarked.

As the Skill Up Ireland initiative continues to roll out, it promises to bring transformative changes to Ireland's remote communities, empowering them with the tools to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

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