Teresa Scassa and Courtney Doagoo contribute to Council of Canadian Academies’ report on the risks and benefits of AI for Canada

Posted on Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The AI + Society Initiative and the Centre for Law, Technology and Society are delighted to announce that Faculty member Dr. Teresa Scassa and Fellow Dr. B. Courtney Doagoo have contributed to Leaps and Boundaries, a new report by the Council of Canadian Academies that examines a broad range of factors related to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in scientific research and discovery in Canada.

The National Research Council of Canada and co-sponsors CIFAR, CIHR, NSERC and SSRHC, asked the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) to examine the legal, regulatory, ethical, social, and policy challenges associated with deploying AI technologies to enable scientific and engineering research design and discovery. To this end, the CCA had assembled an expert panel, chaired by Dr. Teresa Scassa and including Dr. B. Courtney Doagoo, to examine a broad range of factors related to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in scientific research and discovery in Canada.

In their report Leaps and Boundaries, the CCA expert panel highlights that AI is poised to transform how science and engineering is conducted and funded in Canada, bringing both tremendous opportunities and risks. AI has the potential to spur innovation and further scientific understanding beyond the limits of human abilities but could also deepen existing inequities, perpetuate human biases, and even create new ones. Canada could also risk losing its competitive advantage in AI unless it takes decisive steps to move beyond its existing strengths.

 

CLTS Faculty member Dr. Teresa Scassa, chair of the CCA Expert Panel, stated that

“The cross-cutting nature of AI means that no field will remain untouched by this technology. To maximize its benefits, it will be critical that the social and ethical implications of AI are addressed at the earliest stages of development, through to application, and with greater collaboration among researchers across disciplines and sectors.”  

 

To date, growth in AI has been focused heavily on research and talent, but there’s a pressing need to better integrate knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines for the responsible development and use of the technology in a broader way. AI is already used for a range of tasks in science and engineering, such as analyzing and interpreting data. It is anticipated that in the near future, AI will be used to develop novel scientific hypotheses and experiments, and creating new engineering design processes, with minimal human involvement. This rapid pace of technological development has created various legal and regulatory hurdles, including issues related to data governance, intellectual property, and the management of acceptable levels of societal risk.  

The report also identifies the actors whose decisions will determine how the challenges will be addressed and how various fields and sectors could potentially integrate AI into their practices.

 

Read the report

The report is also available in French. 

 

Dr. Teresa Scassa is the Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy, a Faculty member at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, and a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa. Her research explores the intersection of law and technology, and she draws upon interdisciplinary approaches and networks in her work. She has written widely about intellectual property and privacy law issues in a broad range of contexts. Her ongoing research projects are on artificial intelligence and the law, data governance, data privacy, and legal dimensions of data scraping. 

Dr. B. Courtney Doagoo is an AI and Society Fellow at the Centre for Law, Technology and Society.

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