In June of 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron announced the signing of the Canada-France Statement on Artificial Intelligence [1]. This statement reaffirmed the G7 Innovation Minister's Statement on Artificial Intelligence from March 2018. In it Canada and France commit to promoting "a vision of human-centric artificial intelligence grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth."

This conference takes up the commitment by bringing together humanists, social scientists, computer scientists with people from government and industry involved in artificial intelligence. The conference hope to be a place where people can discuss ethical and socially responsible uses of artificial intelligence.

Trudeau's commitment to human-centric AI was part of a larger federal initiative supporting investment in AI research through the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) via a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The strategy supports three new AI institutes across Canada including Amii (Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute) in Edmonton. The University of Alberta is one of the three lead AI research hubs in Canada supported by the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. The Edmonton conference on AI, Ethics and Society brings humanists and social scientists into the discussion until recently has been dominated by technologists.

The responsible development and deployment of AI is an important issue for Canadians. When the Prime Minister made further funding announcements at the G7 Multistakeholder
Conference on AI in Montréal in December of 2018 they followed an agenda on Enabling the Responsible Adoption of AI [2]. Further, there have been two important meetings in Canada that have led to declarations around responsible AI. The Montreal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence was developed through a participatory process that included a forum in November 2017 [3]. The Toronto Declaration: Protecting the rights to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning system was launched at a forum organized by Access Now in May of 2018 [4]. It is time now to mobilize a discussion in Edmonton to match.

While Canadian universities like the University of Alberta are global leaders in AI research and development, researchers have yet to develop a parallel dialogue around the ethical and social impacts of big data and AI technologies that can engage the science and technology rather than follow it. AI, Ethics and Society therefore engages the social sciences and humanities to start a richer dialogue.

AI, Ethics and Society is being designed as part of a wider Edmonton based initiative led by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) to develop excellence in AI and Ethics at the University through hosting the ICIE (International Center for Information Ethics) with its journal and working with relevant departments. KIAS has a track record of bringing together researchers in the history, ethics, policy, business, governance and science of big data and AI with stakeholders from business and government.

The conference, through partnerships with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), ATB Financial, and Compute Canada will connect AI researchers in computing science with social science and humanities researchers and stakeholders from business and government. Conference participants have been drawn from both local and international sources, including tapping into the vast resources and talent available at the University of Alberta so as to build a community of experts in AI ethics to mirror and partner with the scientific community. International partners like the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) and ICIE (International Center for Information Ethics) bring an international track record of developing insights and standards for industry, academia and society.


[1] Canada-France Statement on Artificial Intelligence. <>

[2] Government of Canada (2018). "G7 Multistakeholder Conference on Artificial Intelligence." <>

[3] "Montréal Declaration: Responsible AI." <>

[4] Access Now (2018). "The Toronto Declaration: Protecting the rights to equality and nondiscrimination in machine learning systems." <>