Cautionary words as $3M committed to AI research at Western
LONDON, Ont. -- A significant donation to Western University from RBC came with supportive and cautionary words about artificial intelligence.
To reassure, no references were made to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the more sinister Terminator series, but there was definite hesitation about artificial intellience (AI).
It came as RBC announced a gift of $3-million to create The RBC Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Project at Western.
A Western news release describes the project as a unique opportunity to expand the school's ongoing cross-disciplinary work in the fields of data analytics and AI.
But the same release also states, that the Intelligence Project will focus “on answering big questions for the good of society.”
In an address about the program, Matt Davison, the dean of the Faculty of Science, stated, “Appropriate and effective use of this technology (AI) will increase the need for the right kind of personnel. And, we look forward to working with colleagues...to educate students who are both ethically and socially aware."
Computer Sciences student Heather Kozak went further with support and caution of AI, saying, "It is thrilling to think about the number of ways we can apply its potential in areas that have a direct impact on our lives. But, it is equally important to identify the challenges that AI could bring."
Meeting those challenges will be a key piece of the three-part funding approach RBC’s gift will give Western.
Two courses will be created to focus on the ethical and social questions surrounding the rising levels of AI in computers and its potential positive and negative impacts on human life.
“We absolutely believe that in the future, AI will actually influence - and I mean 'influence' every decision that we make as a business and every decision that all of us make as people," says Bruce Ross, Technology and Operations at RBC.
RBC’s gift of $3 million will also include the creation of two scholarship funds for third-year students in Software Engineering and the creation of a Design Thinking Program, open to all Western students, to offer tools in computer coding.