McGill to train next-gen leaders in ethical A.I. use

Monday, June 28, 2021

A new cohort of students at McGill University will soon be poised to tackle crucial questions about the application and potential misuse of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), which continues to change the retail landscape and enable convenient features on smartphones.

A fellowship and award program is being established through a $2-million donation to the Faculty of Science from BMO Financial Group. The fellowship program, open to graduate students, and the award program, open to undergraduate students from across the university, aims to train the next generation of professionals in the important ethical considerations surrounding the use of A.I.

The program will equip not just computer scientists and software developers, but also future industry leaders and policy makers with the necessary grounding and skills in the responsible and ethical use of A.I., while attracting a diverse group of voices to the field.

“There is always the potential for A.I. to make mistakes,” Derek Ruths, associate professor at the School of Computer Science, said in a statement. “And while any error is problematic – of particular concern is when the A.I. tends to make more mistakes on a particular group of people – this creates unfair outcomes that can be biased by race, gender, or income. We’ve already seen this happen in A.I. that’s been applied in areas like policing, parole evaluation, and hiring decisions.”

The program will start recruiting fellowship and award recipients for Fall 2022. BMO has been a longstanding supporter of McGill for more than a century.

“To boldly grow the good in business and life, we must ensure that while students are acquiring the skills to break new ground in A.I. research and application that they are also leading in navigating the responsible use of these technologies,” added Darryl White, CEO of BMO Financial Group.

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