Canada is the first nation with an AI Strategy, investing $125M in pan-Canadian AI Centres of Excellence (plus $443M in 2021) and $1B in 5 Industrial Superclusters that all apply AI as a central theme. These investments will boost research capacity and sustain our global leadership in AI research and innovation. AI is having deep impact on society and all industries. Training, though, but has so far leaned on computing science alone.

The full human value of AI derives from the entire data value chain (Sensors to Data, Data to Models, Models to Action). Both technical and social aspects must apply an ethics lens for equitable, unbiased outcomes. Raw data can be useful in discovery contexts but bring challenges at later steps through insufficient data depth, representation bias or algorithm unfairness.

Transdisciplinary teams that validly define data uses and data-informed expectations for knowledge translation can meet these challenges.

Training Program
FD2D highly qualified personnel (HQP) will identify, manage and add value in the full AI data value chain. Trainees will learn to meld technical, ethical, legal, privacy and social facets of AI. They will learn in transdisciplinary courses, annual bootcamps, and industry mentorships and internships. In each training mode, they will work in teams across disciplines to solve real problems for industry and society. We will prepare graduates across sectors to broadly understand AI-powered applications and effectively manage diverse teams that design, build, approve, use, administer, monitor and refine these applications and develop policies. They will apply their learning to shape industry in AI ethics, privacy and societal impact.

No program in the world offers this rich training of an AI workforce able to analyze and solve AI challenges from all aspects in teams. FD2D can be a national standard for training on ethical, diversity-informed AI throughout the data value chain.

Reflecting FD2D’s vision, the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) recommends training in economic, ethical, policy and legal impacts of AI. In a recent Globe & Mail report, industry leaders stated vigorous demand for AI teams to understand policy and work with non-experts across disciplines. “Key tech workers are increasingly found outside the tech sector. …Data scientists are now often found in sectors like finance, natural resources, healthcare and retail.” Canadian universities must assess availability and accessibility of AI-related courses in business, finance and health.

Non-traditional training pathways will infuse the digital economy with future-ready workers. But AI applied by transdisciplinary teams in diverse industry sectors and government is not sufficient to realize the full societal value of AI. “What should guide the Canadian approach to a digital future are the same values that should guide us as a country: fairness in opportunity, diversity and inclusivity, sustainability and community.” Realizing the full societal value of AI requires integrating lenses, throughout the data value chain, for ethical, unbiased, fair and privacy-preserving AI practice.

The Edmonton AI ecosystem is already poised to lead this innovative training program and implement this pivotal vision of AI for full societal value. Our globally respected University of Alberta researchers in AI will collaborate with thriving AI start-ups, municipal and provincial agencies with unique data assets, and AI leaders.

No jurisdiction in the world matches this combination of assets. FD2D will train managers and leaders for complex AI challenges that computing sciences alone cannot meet.

We will recruit globally for HQP with diverse backgrounds: social sciences, health and life sciences, computing science, engineering, physical sciences, education, humanities and law. With training across disciplines, we will graduate HQP who can work effectively on multi-faceted challenges such as pandemic contact tracing or bias in predictive policing. Research on ethics, privacy and societal impact of AI has mushroomed in the past 5 years, and our HQP will bring that knowledge to industry. Their training will take them directly to careers working on and leading teams that tackle increasingly complex AI challenges, including ethical, social and privacy challenges for industry and government in using AI.