For more than three decades, CIFAR’s global research programs have connected many of the world’s best minds – across borders and disciplines – to shape new perspectives, and spark ground-breaking ideas. Our commitment to sustained research interactions and engagement through interdisciplinary research networks offers researchers the rarest of commodities: freedom to take intellectual risks that are essential for creating truly transformative knowledge.
We invite the global research community to submit proposals for workshops that are centred on complex, fundamental questions of importance to the world. Topics selected for workshops should have the potential to impact multiple sectors of society on an international scale. Topics that are timely in the context of world events, high-risk, or have strong potential for advancement or refinement through a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach are encouraged.
We are accepting proposals for AI & Society Workshops.
A list of previously awarded workshops, including for our targeted call on Child Well-being, is available here.
AI & Society
Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods and techniques, embedded within computational and cyber-physical technologies, are increasingly performing human-level cognitive activities – from perception and recognition to decision-making and inference. These technologies already play a significant role in improving the quality of life of all people in areas as essential as health care, transportation, communication and working conditions. It is hard to imagine a sector of society that will not be affected by AI.
While AI holds great promise, it also raises numerous ethical concerns and the possibility of serious social disruption. It is essential, therefore, that the potential ethical, cultural, regulatory and economic implications be thoroughly researched and understood by policy-makers, scientists, business and civil society.
Due to the global nature of AI, research organizations can develop new, unique opportunities to work together to support interdisciplinary and international approaches to the socioeconomic issues and opportunities raised by AI through scientific and scholarly exchange.
In this International Call for AI & Society Workshop Proposals, CIFAR, CNRS and UKRI will jointly fund proposals led jointly by experts in Canada, France and the UK on important societal questions arising from new AI technologies.
To be held in all three countries, these workshops are intended to build international collaborations that bring together interdisciplinary perspectives, including the social sciences, humanities, law, engineering, computer science and the arts with policymakers and innovators.
Administered by CIFAR, the joint workshops will provide funding and support that brings together new teams that propose to explore the ethical, social, legal, and economic potential impacts of AI developments and an associated research agenda. CIFAR, CNRS and UKRI have agreed to provide equal support up to a total of nine joint workshops in 2019.
Proposals related to any aspect of the intersection of AI and society are welcome; however, proposals exploring AI as it relates to the following themes are encouraged:
Working in AI environments: Widespread use of AI is likely to have a radical impact on the future of work. How will AI feature in our working lives and how should AI be developed to best shape the future of work? What are the economic, societal and technical challenges involved in realising a future where we routinely work with and possibly compete against AI technologies? What are the challenges in driving AI innovation across a broad range of sectors?
International Governance of AI: The investigation of novel AI approaches is a global phenomenon with many countries seeking to accrue the benefits of AI. As the use of AI grows a range of significant governance challenges emerge across a broad set of areas. What are the appropriate ways to develop AI policy and approaches to ethical governance and how might this best be done in an international context given the global nature of the technology?
Safety and Privacy of AI: Access to large amounts of data underpins many AI techniques and approaches. The access and use of this data and the development of AI processing techniques raise fundamental issues of ethics and privacy. What are the key ethical challenges and how might these be addressed? How might we develop future AI technologies and approaches to ensure that they are safe, secure and ethical?
Human enhancements: AI techniques open interesting perspectives for cognitive and sensori-motor extensions of human capabilities. These new perspectives, which may blur the traditional distinction between human and machines, engender fundamental social and ethical issues. How do we anticipate these developments and understand the benefits and risks involved?
- Workshops must be comprised of a core team of three to four researchers based in at least two of the three countries of Canada, France and the UK, who are interdisciplinary researchers or practitioners. One of the core team members must serve as the lead applicant for the proposal. CIFAR will work with the core team to identify and recruit additional participants.
- At least one participant will be from each of Canada, France and the UK. Other participants are encouraged to be geographically diverse.
- Workshops must address a new area of research, or a gap in the research agenda.
- Proposals should outline the plan for the workshop, including themes and anticipated outcomes, possible location(s) in Canada, France or the UK, and length. A high-level budget (travel, accommodation, meals and onsite costs, pre- and post-meetings for planning) is required for up to a maximum of 50,000 CAD/33,000 EU/30,000 GBP for a single workshop, or 80,000 CAD/53,000 EU/47,000 GBP for two workshops. Proposals that exceed this cost will be excluded from consideration. CIFAR will work with selected applicants to further develop a detailed budget.
- It is expected that all members of the core team will be internationally recognized leaders who are considered experts in their field.
- This program is intended for workshops that are in the earliest stages of planning, not for workshops/conferences that are already planned. Note that CIFAR will work with the applications to further develop the workshop, including invite list and budget if awarded.
- Workshops are intended to develop new collaborations. Proposals should demonstrate that this is a new group coming together to advance the proposed research topic.
- Each proposal must include a plan for a publication targeted at non-academic audiences, such as policymakers, AI innovators, NGOs and the public.
- This call is intended to foster active participation and inclusion of all scholars – including those from underrepresented groups in research, such as but not limited to women, members of visible minorities, Aboriginal Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups — across geographic borders, disciplines, and career stage.
Submissions must be done through CIFAR’s electronic form found here.
Submitted proposals are required to answer the following questions:
- What is/are the research question(s) or thematic area that this workshop will address? Why is this issue significant today (e.g. timeliness, global relevance)? (Max. 500 words)
- How will this interdisciplinary workshop add value to the current state of knowledge and/or practice related to this area?
- Why is an international network beyond your established collaborators necessary for this workshop? (Max. 250 words)
- What is the proposed format of this workshop? Please be sure to clarify what the expectations of participants are during the workshop (e.g. presentations, breakout sessions). (Max. 250 words)
- What are the intended outcomes of the workshop? In your response, please consider potential supported outputs (e.g. policy brief, report, best practices or other recommendations, future research agenda) as well as target audiences. (Max. 400 words)
- What is the strategy for expanding the workshop network beyond the core team of participants (e.g. what additional perspectives do you hope to add to the discussion)? (Max. 250 words)
- If applicable, please list any proposed or existing partners. Include the level of support (committed, approached, proposed) and the type (direct financial, in-kind, expertise etc). (Max. 250 words)
- Please list the proposed core international team from Canada, France and the UK (lead applicant, plus up to three others), including their expertise. If applicable, list potential participants to be invited to the workshop.
- Applicants will also be asked to submit as appendices:
- Literature cited (max. 1 page).
- Short CVs (max. 2 pages each) for each core member of the workshop.
- If applicable, letters of support from partner organizations or collaborators describing their contribution (in-kind, cash, expertise) to the proposed workshop.
- Workshop budget that includes proposed location in Canada, France or the UK, travel, accommodation, meals, and onsite costs. Please provide a brief justification for each line item. The need for funds should be specified, along with any existing funds that would be used to offset workshop costs (direct or in-kind). A budget template with eligible expenses will be provided.
1. Evidence of the relevance or novelty of the proposal theme and its potential impact
- Does this workshop add value to what is currently being done internationally in the proposed research area?
- Have the objectives been clearly defined? Are the potential outcomes or next steps clearly and logically outlined?
2. Need for an international and interdisciplinary approach
- Does the workshop require an international and interdisciplinary approach?
- Does the applicant provide an accurate assessment of the current efforts in this area, including justifying why there is a need for the workshop?
- Are the activities proposed the best methods or approaches for the proposed research question/area?
- Is this a new collaboration and/or is this collaboration essential?
- What is the nature and extent of the collaboration?
- Is there a need to expand the researchers’ existing academic networks, and/or include partners and stakeholders in practice, business, policy, or civil society?
- Has the need for support in building networks been clearly and logically articulated?
3. Excellence of the research team
- What does each participant add to the team in terms of her/his knowledge, expertise, and/or resources?
- Have the pertinence of the expertise, role, and expected contributions of each member been satisfactorily described?
- Is the expertise interdisciplinary, complementary, potentially synergistic, and well integrated?
- Is the proposed research team international in composition?
- Is this geographic distribution reflective of the scope of the research question(s) being explored?
- Is there a clear logic for how/why the workshop will build new connections with researchers and non-academic stakeholders?
- Does the team have a clear plan for writing up the proceedings of the workshop for policy-makers and experience doing so?
4. Workshop Plan
- Is the workshop plan reasonable and efficacious?
- Can the activities be completed in the estimated time?
- Are the leadership and management of the workshop appropriate?
- Are the proposed location(s) in Canada, France or the UK, length and number of participants appropriate?
- Is the budget logical and reasonable?
CIFAR will assess eligible proposals and send up to 20 proposals for external peer-review by internationally recognized researchers identified by CIFAR, CNRS and UKRI. Approval of up to nine workshops will be made jointly by CIFAR, CNRS and UKRI. Final decisions will rest with the three funding organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What type of engagements will be funded?
CIFAR is interested in funding research workshops that promote short-term, time-limited interactions of approximately 10 to 20 people. The format of the workshop is dependent on the research question(s) being explored. Workshops may be a one-time meeting or may involve multiple engagements over a short period of time.
Proposals should be focused on a fundamental research question of global importance. Successful proposals will put forward compelling research questions and demonstrate why it is necessary for the research area to be explored by the academic community. Note that application- or implementation-based research is not within the scope of this call for proposals. These workshops are not intended for research dissemination. Where relevant, participation by policy, not-for-profit, or industry stakeholders is encouraged.
2. Does the research question/area need to be Canadian-focused?
The proposed topic should address a question of global importance.
3. Can I submit more than one proposal and/or be listed on multiple proposals?
Individuals can only be the lead applicant for one active proposal at a time. However, they can be team members on more than one proposal.
4. How long do I have to organize and execute the workshop?
From the date of notification of acceptance, the organizing team has 8 months to implement the workshop unless agreed upon in advance by CIFAR.
5. What is CIFAR’s role in the development and execution of the workshop?
CIFAR will work closely with successful applicants throughout the planning process to expand the participant list to include additional academic researchers, and/or to include partner organizations and other stakeholders. CIFAR staff will be in attendance at the workshop.
6. Can this funding support work I am currently undertaking?
While a workshop can be an extension of work currently underway, the proposal should clearly articulate how this workshop is a new project for the proponents. Proposals should also address how a research workshop will provide a unique opportunity to explore the proposed research questions that would otherwise not be possible through existing collaborations. The need for CIFAR should be made explicit in proposals.
7. How competitive is the call for Research Workshops?
The program is competitive, and it is expected that only a limited number of workshops of the highest calibre will be funded.
8. Can the workshops take place outside of Canada?
Yes, workshops can take place outside of Canada. Workshops should take place in a location that is consistent with the research question(s) being asked, that is feasible within the budget, and that is logistically convenient for a majority of workshop participants.
9. Can I receive feedback on my proposal?
If requested, CIFAR can provide feedback on administrative questions or issues. However, we are unable to provide substantive feedback on workshop proposals.
10. Are indirect costs or overhead costs permissible?
It is CIFAR’s policy that indirect costs of a project (including institutional overhead) are not eligible.