uOttawa and Scotiabank announce major gift for the creation of the AI + Society Initiative

Posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2020


The University of Ottawa and Scotiabank announced the creation of a new Initiative that will define problems and identify solutions to essential issues related to ethical AI and technology development. The AI + Society Initiative will be led by Dr. Florian Martin-Bariteau, Director of the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society and an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section.


The University of Ottawa and Scotiabank announced a generous gift to create the Scotiabank Fund for the AI + Society Initiative at the University of Ottawa. This project will support the development of a Canadian AI and Society Initiative, leading to a better understanding and framing of the ethical, legal and societal implications of AI research and its uses. Furthermore, this Initiative will leverage an interdisciplinary approach to advancing AI methods and tools, with a focus on their responsible applications.
The new Initiative will offer students opportunities to gain experience, locally and abroad, in an emerging field that will have profound implications on Canadian society in the years to come. The Initiative’s outreach will include lectures, conferences, training, tools, frameworks, and white papers that will develop global thought-leadership on AI and society.
The research funded by Scotiabank will be organized in two streams:
  1. AI + Inclusion: Designing Ethical and Inclusive AI Systems
    This research stream will promote a research agenda around inclusion to develop effective and participatory ethical design/engineering frameworks, methodologies, and tools for AI systems.  A specific focus will include avoiding the amplification of global digital injustices through AI for women, youth, seniors, Indigenous People, LGBTQIA+, visible minorities, individuals with disabilities, linguistic minorities (such as French and Indigenous Languages) and those at the intersection of these identities. The research will also consider specific concerns regarding people in the North, remote communities, and developing nations.
  2. AI + Regulation: Shaping Global AI Regulation
    This research stream will focus on the emerging regulatory approaches to AI and automation in Canada and around the world, to inform policy makers, industries and other stakeholders. For example, copyright and privacy laws are also important to ensure more inclusive, less biased AI systems. In order to get a better understanding of our societies and ensure inclusion of diverse perspectives, researchers need to have greater access to information and data.

The new Initiative builds on 20 years of award-winning research at the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society, Canada’s leading research hub for law, ethics and policy surrounding technology, gathering, in an interdisciplinary setting, researchers from the Faculties of Law, Social Sciences, Arts, and Engineering includes more than 100 researchers and students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Founded in 2009, the Centre is globally recognized as a premier research group in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cybersecurity, intellectual property, privacy and health technologies. 
The new AI + Society Initiative will be led by Dr. Florian Martin-Bariteau, director of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society and Assistant Professor within the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. The research team will include leading emergent and senior scholars from the Centre, such as Dr. Jason Millar, Prof. Jane Bailey, Dr. Elizabeth Dubois, Dr. Michael Geist, Dr. Amy Salyzyn, Dr. Teresa Scassa, and Dr. Valerie Steeves.
The research program of the Initiative will also count on the expertise of Dr. Karine Gentelet, Associate Professor from the Université du Québec en Outaouais and CLTS Associate Member, and Dr. B. Courtney Doagoo, a Fellow of the AI and Society Initiative. In the near future, the Initiative will expand to welcome new scholars including a new project on issues related to AI, health and environment.
More details about the AI + Society Initiative and its research program are available at:
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