Second Call for AI & Society Workshops

New International workshops announced in partnership with CNRS & UKRI

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.

In August 2018, CIFAR launched an international Call for Proposals in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) to fund proposals led by experts in Canada, France and the UK on important societal questions arising from new technologies. The Call closed in October and the Adjudication process was completed in January 2019. Eight successful proposals have been selected and will be announced shortly by CIFAR, CNRS and UKRI. Read the August 2018 announcement here.

Four themes were identified for the call. Workshops will be held in all three countries in 2019-2020. The workshops will build on international collaborations and 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.

Themes for the Call

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 realizing 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 sensorimotor 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? CIFAR held a previous AI & Society Call for Workshops in April 2018, which was completed in August 2018.

Summary of Approved Proposals

In February 2019, a total of eight workshops were selected as part of CIFAR's Second Call for AI & Society Workshops. The workshops and the proposal teams are:

AI and the Curation of Culture: Cultural goods worldwide are now distributed algorithmically through digital recommendation systems, but the impact this has on how society consumes and produces cultural goods - such as music, film, and books - is unclear. This workshop will address how the application of these algorithms to consumer services affects how society will curate, create and consume these goods, and how policies might influence this technology on an international scale.

Proposal Team: Ashton Anderson, University of Toronto, Canada; Georgina Born, Oxford University, United Kingdom; Fernando Diaz, Microsoft Research, Canada; Jeremy Morris, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

AI and Future Arctic Conflicts: The Arctic environment is changing: sea ice is melting, glaciers are retreating, and permafrost is thawing. As climates shift, new reserves of natural resources will emerge, complicating existing geopolitical dynamics and leading to potential conflicts over these environments. This workshop will analyse the role of AI in potential scenarios of such global conflicts, and the policy, ethical, and legal challenges that may arise from them.

Proposal Team: Stephanie Carvin, Carleton University, Canada; Klaus Dodds, Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom; Patrick Lin, California Polytechnic University, United States; Fritz Allhoff, Western Michigan University, United States

Trust in AI Systems: Trust is a complex and multifaceted construct that plays a fundamental role in the deployment and acceptance of AI technologies. The proposed workshop aims to initiate efforts towards gaining a broader understanding of how factors such as application domain and user differences come into play to create trustworthy AI systems that empower their users to understand when the system’s actions are valuable and should be accepted, but also when they have limitations.

Proposal Team: Cristina Conati, University of British Columbia, Canada; Elisabeth Andre, Augsburg University, Germany; Kaska Porayska-Pomsta, University College London, United Kingdom; Judy Kay, University of Sydney, Australia

Ethical Futures & AI Medicine: As AI technologies gain wider adoption in the healthcare sector, greater consideration must be given to the ethical and societal implications of how the work of doctors will be disrupted. This workshop will investigate how AI assistance may affect our understanding of the practice of medicine, particularly the impact of AI on core professional values, the professional roles of doctors, and the future of healthcare services.

Proposal Team: Heather Draper, University of Warwick, United Kingdom; Lisa Schwartz, McMaster University, Canada; Daniel Racoceanu, Sorbonne University, France; Wendy Rogers, Macquarie University, Australia

AI & Health Care: A Workshop for the Fusion of Law & Science: Current legal and regulatory medical regimes - protecting patient safety and privacy - were developed in an era of medicine that is rapidly falling out of memory. The goal of this workshop is to explore existing safety and privacy laws surrounding AI health technologies from ethical, legal, and regulatory perspectives.

Proposal Team: Colleen Flood, University of Ottawa, Canada; Ian Kerr, University of Ottawa, Canada; Joelle Pineau, McGill University, Canada; Celine Castets-Renard, Universite Toulouse Capitole, France

Sustainability in the Digital Age: At the intersection of technology, sustainability, and policy there is tremendous potential to identify levers of systemic change to lead society down a globally sustainable path. This workshop aims to identify opportunities where powerful technologies like AI can be applied, with the insights of a multidisciplinary team, to target climate change, while understanding the ethical implications of these AI levers and the connections that define global systems of production, consumption, and organization.

Proposal Team: Amy Luers, FutureEarth, Canada; Mathilde Mougeot, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Informatique pour l’Industrie et l'Entreprise (ENSIIE), France; Lyse Langlois, Université Laval, Canada; Sana Khareghani, Office for Artificial Intelligence UK, United Kingdom

Social Dynamics & Culture of AI: Given the effect of AI and other technologies on social dynamics and human interactions, this workshop will investigate how the development of AI affects cultural diversity and expression, the nature of AI’s impact on ethnic, gender, and socio-cultural discrimination, and potential governance options to preserve diversity and human rights.

Proposal Team: Marie-Hélène Parizeau, Université Laval, Canada; Vanessa Nurock, Université de Paris 8, France; Raja Chatila, Université Sorbonne, France; Véronique Guèvremont, Université Laval, Canada

Fairness, Interpretability and Privacy for Algorithmic Systems: Addressing themes of AI safety and privacy, this workshop proposes to investigate how algorithms in consumer services can be ethically and safely deployed. The research agenda will be informed by the perspectives of lawyers, ethicists, and technology experts, and will transcend national and disciplinary boundaries.

Proposal Team: Adrian Weller, The Alan Turing Institute, United Kingdom; Nozha Boujemaa, INRIA, France; Jonathan Schaeffer, University of Alberta, Canada