Joint Experimentation: Creative Reduction of Carbon Footprint: Ireland

Over 50 participants from across Ireland, gathered to showcase their ideas and technological prowess at the SPECTRA GenAI hackathon over the period of 2 days on 21st and 22 June 2024 (Friday and Saturday), at the Portershed, Galway City Innovation District, in Galway.

Congratulations to our top winners, Furrows, for their innovative approach to agricultural solutions.

The participants heard from Founder and industry veteran Joe Smyth who has been working in the AI space right from the early days. Helena Deane presented the SPECTRA Challenge and did the reverse pitch for the project. On Saturday, lightning talks gave teams insight into the hottest (Gen)AI resources out there, from Low Code to AI Workbench Zerve AI (Intel Ignite W23), and a fascinating talk on LLMs, with exclusive access to (Gen)AI Tools for teams to play with (with thanks to Notion, Vellum, and Zerve AI (Intel Ignite W23)).

John Breslin’s of University of Galway and European Digital Innovation Hub EDIH) Data2Sustaian, gave a talk on ‘Old Ireland in Colour’ containing fascinating images that show life in the 19th and 20th centuries Ireland with cattle markets, fishing villages, horse-drawn carts and traveler children, with colour having been restored to the old images with the assistance of AI.

A jury, consisting of Maurice O’Gorman (Galway Chamber of Commerce and Galway City Innovation District), Michelle Concannon (Signify Health) and Ainslie Peters (CREW) deliberated on the outputs of the 9 innovative hackathon teams.

Portershed’s Rosemary Gallagher and Dushyant Singh provided orchestration for this exceptional hackathon, with support from contributors and sponsors The Runway, Vhi, Genesys, Founders (NDRC and Dogpatch Labs), mentors: Rob O’Shaughnessy, Michael McClintock, Cuty Gupta, Greg Toth, Michael ODea, Stephanus (Fanie) Meiring, Anvesh Dwivedi and Emir Muñoz and facilitators: Maeve Lyons, Yixin Qiu, Raja Singaram, Andy McManagan and Gearoid Kearney.

Among the highlights was an artistic showdown between Galway-based artist Finbar McHugh and the AI platform, Midjourney.

This unique challenge took place on the rooftop of PorterShed, providing an inspiring backdrop with natural light and open air. Both Finbar McHugh and Midjourney were given the same prompt: “Create a piece of art in an abstract expressionist style that addresses environmental issues such as waste, water pollution, and monitoring water and air quality.” They had one hour to complete their artwork.

Finbar McHugh, renowned for his evocative and thought-provoking pieces, approached the challenge with a profound understanding of environmental themes. During the reveal, he explained his use of colour: shades of blue symbolised water purity, dark tones represented pollution, greens and browns depicted the earth scarred by waste, and airy swirls of grey and white illustrated the struggles of monitoring air quality. His piece was a narrative of environmental disruption and a call to action.

Midjourney, leveraging advanced algorithms and a vast database of artistic styles, created a bold and intricate piece that captured the abstract expressionist style with precision. The AI-generated artwork used striking colours and forms to evoke a sense of urgency about environmental issues, demonstrating how AI can interpret complex themes and translate them into visual art.

Both artworks were impressive and unique, however, Finbar McHugh’s piece was chosen as the favourite by the hackathon participants.

The GenAI Hackathon was more than a competition; it was a celebration of human ingenuity and the potential of AI. Finbar McHugh’s victory underscored the irreplaceable essence of human creativity, while the impressive output from Midjourney highlighted the promising future of AI in art. This event showcased the remarkable synergy between human talent and artificial intelligence, proving that while AI can enhance the creative process, the soul and emotion behind a piece of art remain uniquely human.

SPECTRA wishes to extend the credit for photography and event write-up to Anthony Shaughnessy and the Portershed.