Artificial Intelligence

NBI’s David McCourt praises Ireland’s global leadership on the 50th anniversary of the Internet

By Business & Finance
17 April 2024
Pictured (L-R): Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet,” and  NBI chairman David McCourt

Telecom innovator McCourt was speaking in Costa Rica about the Internet’s past, present and future in an AI world alongside Vint Cerf, the inventor of the Internet

“It’s a country’s responsibility to ensure all citizens have high-speed broadband and access to the health and wealth that AI can bring to its people.” This was the stark warning from Granahan McCourt founder and NBI chairman David McCourt as he spoke this past week at Costa Rica’s prestigious Club de Investigación Tecnológica, urging all small countries to take a leadership role in the global AI race.

“We need guard rails, transparency, and fairness, but stopping the role of AI in the development of society is a mistake,” continued McCourt.

Speaking alongside Vint Cerf, recognised as one of “the fathers of the Internet”, McCourt presented his vision for the future, adding: “Technology is a solution for cheaper and better education, cheaper healthcare, and a cleaner environment. However, without connectivity, the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ will only get wider.”

As the founder and Chairman of National Broadband Ireland (NBI), McCourt’s team spearheads the rollout of the Irish Government’s National Broadband Plan. Well regarded as one of the most successful multi-billion-dollar megaprojects in the world, NBI recently came in for praise for being on schedule, on budget and exceeding the original policy goals – a feat only achieved by less than 0.5% of megaprojects according to a study by Oxford University.

Laying enough fibre to go around the world nearly four times, NBI is deploying its network to over 1.1 million people across 569,000 rural homes, farms, schools and businesses. Acting on the Irish Government’s mandate, McCourt says “no-one will be left behind, setting up Ireland to become the first country in Europe to provide high-speed broadband to 100% of the population”.

“With its National Broadband Plan, the Irish Government has set a blueprint for other nations to follow, rolling out an ambitious plan to give all citizens access to the world’s leading fibre connectivity. I’m proud to share these facts with other nations and promote Ireland’s leadership. How we live, work, communicate, and govern is all going to change in this new world order, and it all starts with building the right foundations with ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband, which Ireland is doing,” said McCourt.

While in Costa Rica, the Costa Rica Times commented that “McCourt is synonymous with innovation in the telecom realm. His work is a testament to the possibilities that lie in harnessing technology to bridge gaps and connect countries”.

Having spent his 30-year career at the intersection of public policy, business and society, McCourt founded the first competitive phone company in America. He went on to become the first to launch the triple play that is voice, video and data – today considered the norm- and has founded or bought over 30 companies in nine countries.

Roberto Sasso, President of Costa Rica’s Club de Investigación Tecnológica, who invited McCourt to share his learnings from Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, said: “As an entrepreneur, business leader, and informed media commentator, David McCourt is helping the world understand the existential need for high-speed Internet for all, not just the city dwellers, and how to harness the opportunities in Artificial Intelligence and seize opportunities to view it as our friend, not foe. We have been honoured to have David join us in Costa Rica and fascinated to hear the comparisons he makes between Ireland and Costa Rica, both as small countries with successful track records of bold policy decisions and innovative practices.”

During his time in Costa Rica, McCourt has also been shooting content for his upcoming TV documentary ‘An Inquiry into the AI Health & Wealth of Nations’, exploring the real-life stories of people at the cutting edge of developments in Artificial Intelligence.

“Small countries like Ireland and Costa Rica have already made tremendous steps to harness the transformational benefits of Artificial Intelligence, and through our new TV documentary, we’re set to shine a light on the work these nations, and others, have done to use AI to solve major challenges. We plan to tell captivating stories, shot in beautiful environments, and share them with the world.” 

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