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International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies launched

Montréal, December 3, 2018 – Université Laval and its university and college partners, in cooperation with reputed research centres, nongovernment organizations, businesses, government institutions, and groups in Quebec, across Canada, and around the world, are joining together to launch the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies (OIISIAN) and position Québec in this key field.

This broad coalition—a response to the call for proposals from Québec chief scientist Rémi Quirion and Québec's three FRQs (Fonds de recherche du Québec) last May—was warmly greeted by the scientific community at the «Faire face à l'IA» (Addressing the Challenge of AI) Forum.

With$7.5 million in FRQ funding over five years, the project will be spearheaded by Université Laval under the scientific direction of Lyse Langlois, professor of industrial relations and director of Institut d'éthique appliquée.

OIISIAN will bring tops experts in Québec together to provide an interdisciplinary and intersectoral perspective on AI and digital technology issues of concern to all spheres of society. The objective is to study the impacts on individuals, organizations, and communities, suggest solutions, and provide direction to decision makers. Nearly 160 researchers, including Canadian and partner research chair holders, will contribute to and help build the success of this new scientific hub.

OIISIAN will have a nimble governance structure to ensure a diversity of expertise, encourage viewpoints to be shared, and embrace all stakeholders with advanced knowledge of the production or use of digital technologies. «We will work together to improve understanding, better inform the public, and help decision makers as they grapple with the huge challenges this fast-growing field poses in terms of employment, health, education, technology, security, democracy, justice, and ethics», explained Professor Langlois.

For the vice rector of research, creation, and innovation at Université Laval, Eugénie Brouillet, the challenges of AI and digital technology know no borders and demand global study and decisive action. «The entire international research ecosystem in this explosive new field have a role to play in the Observatory, which will make Québec a world leader in analysis of the impacts of AI and digital technology on our lives», said Ms. Brouillet.

Andrée-Anne Stewart
Media Relations Supervisor
Direction des communications
Université Laval
T.: 418-656-3952
C.: 418-254-3141