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Millions in funding in UK for AI ethics, Canada for digital ID privacy research

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Millions in funding in UK for AI ethics, Canada for digital ID privacy research

The U.K.’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has unveiled a new program worth £8.5 million ($10.43 million) that will see researchers collaborate on biometrics, facial recognition, and other technologies aimed at the development of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the financial sector.

AHRC, a part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said the initiative is the first of its kind in the country and will become a stepping stone for the ethical development and use of AI in the UK.

The program will harness the expertise of researchers and innovators, from both humanities and computer science backgrounds, to tackle the complex ethical challenges deriving from algorithmic decision-making.

“From facial recognition to big data used in the financial sector, ‘deep fake’ videos to ‘tailored’ adverts on social media, Artificial Intelligence has become embedded in our daily lives,” says AHRC Director of Partnerships and Engagement Dr. Allan Sudlow.

“However, this prevalence has raised a number of questions about the ethical impact of such data-driven technologies.”

“Ethics and accountability cannot and must not be an afterthought in the design and development of AI. This program will work in partnership with the Ada Lovelace Institute and industry, government, and regulators to add new insight and perspectives to this area.”

Commenting on the news, Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute says the initiative is a real opportunity for the UK research community to lead the way in developing a responsible AI ecosystem.

“We will be working with the AHRC and appointed Programme Director to define and shape the programme strategy, identify and amplify diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives, engage with the existing ecosystem, and influence policy and practice,” Kind concludes.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner announces new funding for digital ID, biometrics

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) announced new funding for a new round of independent research and knowledge translation projects.

Funded under the OPC’s Contributions Program, the projects will be completed by March 31, 2023, and include a range of novel technologies, including biometrics and digital identity-focussed tools.

One of these projects, submitted by York University, is called Privacy Evaluation of Virtual Classrooms. The OPC awarded the team roughly $50,000 to support the university’s goal of using facial recognition or location-based tracking services to mark student attendances or in-class attention when attending online meetings.

Another project focusing on biometrics was submitted by the University of Regina, and also awarded nearly $50,000 by the OPC. This project aims to empirically test what Canadians deem acceptable in relation to facial recognition technology (FRT) applications in the private sector. Criteria for this assessment include safety, privacy, fairness, and discrimination.

The Université de Sherbrooke, on the other hand, submitted a project focusing on workers’ digital identity, and how Canadian companies manage its applications. Funded by the OPC with roughly $47,000, the initiative aims to establish a “digital identity framework as part of a cloud-based digital organizational transformation.”

The OPC will add all completed projects to a dedicated page you can find at this link.

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