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RBC Foundation supports advancing ethical AI with $1 million commitment to CIFAR

by CIFAR Oct 9 / 18

At the official opening of the Borealis AI Montréal lab, Dave McKay, President & CEO of RBC, announced the RBC Foundation will donate $1 million over the next three years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). The commitment will support research and initiatives aimed at furthering the study of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) practices.

CIFAR is leading the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, working in partnership with three world renowned AI institutes – the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) in Edmonton, Mila in Montreal and the Vector Institute in Toronto. CIFAR will work  closely with Borealis AI, an RBC institute for research, to deliver on key aspects of the strategy.

“The wide-spread adoption of AI means research on responsible and ethical AI practices is extremely important,” said Dr. Foteini Agrafioti, chief science officer, RBC and head, Borealis AI. “These aspects of the technology cannot be an after-thought. That’s why we are taking steps to invest in advancing the ethical principles surrounding AI with this commitment to CIFAR.”

The Foundation’s donation will be critical in delivering three CIFAR initiatives:

  • Catalyst Grants – Supporting new research collaborations and exchange between researchers at any Canadian institution in novel areas of AI research. Two of the awards will be in support of research in the areas of privacy, accountability, transparency and bias in machine learning. Recipients will be awarded with up to $100,000 per year for two years to support their research.

  • Training the next generation of experts – Supporting training opportunities on the social implications of AI, including equity, diversity and inclusion, within the context of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.

  • AIX Research Workshops –CIFAR will deliver a series of research workshops across Canada that will convene researchers across disciplines to understand the opportunity to apply AI in in areas like energy, the environment, neuroscience, cancer, public health and ethics.

“We’re grateful that RBC Foundation and Borealis AI have chosen to support and cooperate in this important work. CIFAR fellows are pioneers in the underlying science of AI, and we also intend to catalyze research into its ethical and social implications for society,” said Dr. Alan Bernstein, President & CEO of CIFAR.