Major funding secured for responsible-use AI program and Aging in Data research project

By Alice Yin, FIMS Communications Staff

July 7, 2021

Headshot of Joanna ReddenAssistant professor Joanna Redden is involved in two major research projects that were recently awarded funding. The Responsible Artificial Intelligence (RAI) initiative received $1.65 million in funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC) competitive Collaborative Research and Training Experience program (CREATE), and the project 'Aging in Data' was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) partnership grant for $2.5 million.

NSERC funding awarded to responsible-use AI program

As use of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to increase in popular use, there is a growing need to research their impact and to ensure these technologies are being used responsibly. These two research projects provide a means to do both. The Responsible Artificial Intelligence (RAI) is a collaborative six-year program that will train emerging artificial intelligence experts in social, legal and ethical responsibility. Led by engineering professor Ebrahim Bagheri (Ryerson University), the project features a multi-disciplinary research team from five institutions, including Western University FIMS professor Joanna Redden.

"This project provides an important opportunity to share research findings about how uses of AI can go wrong, and by building these lessons into our training materials, we can ideally prevent such wrongs in the future. One of our goals is to really highlight the social and ethical implications of AI systems," says Redden.

The funding provided by NSERC will allow the research team to create the first formal, multi-institutional training program in responsible-use AI in Canada, offering students the opportunity to become experts in state-of-the-art AI research.

Students will learn how AI should be responsibly developed and deployed in government, industry and community/civil society contexts. They will also be trained to recognize the potential threats posed by the unintended consequences of using AI, including discrimination, reinforcement of inequalities, surveillance intensification, invasion of privacy and more.

More information about the Responsible Artificial Intelligence (RAI) program can be found here.

SHRCC funding awarded to 'Aging in Data' project

Professor Redden is also part of another research team that was recently awarded a SHRCC partnership grant for $2.5 million over a seven-year span. The 'Aging in Data' project will explore how our lives intersect with changing data systems as we age, with a particular focus on Canadian case studies. It features a team of quantitative and qualitative researchers from 23 universities, nine research groups and seven community organizations, led by professor Kim Sawchuck (Concordia University).

"I am particularly excited about the plans for knowledge mobilization and community partnership that Professor Sawchuck and the team have built into the 'Aging in Data' project. I also really look forward to the way the project will enable me to expand my research into data harms and to collaborations with those seeking to redress and prevent these harms," says Redden.

"I see both the 'Aging in Data' project and the RAI initiative as complimentary and very much needed. I am thrilled to have been invited to join these networks and to work with these stellar research teams."