Canada and the United Kingdom collaborate on responsible artificial intelligence

News release

Understanding challenges around AI is key to successful technology deployment

February 24, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canada is a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI)—the single-largest transformative technology in the world. Fostering Canada’s advantage in digital technologies, including AI, is one of the pillars of the Government of Canada’s economic growth strategy. To develop and deploy this technology in a responsible way that benefits all Canadians, research on understanding how the technology will impact our society is needed, alongside investments in the technology itself.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque, British High Commissioner to Canada, announced investments of approximately C$5 million and £5 million over three years, to fund 10 interdisciplinary, international AI research teams under the Canada-UK Artificial Intelligence Initiative.

These projects, co-led by principal investigators from both countries, will advance understanding of important AI challenges, such as countering abusive online language, improving labour market equality, informing the development of AI transportation systems, helping neurosurgeons perform surgery, and creating technology to better detect and monitor global disease outbreaks.

The projects announced today will encourage new, multidisciplinary and international partnerships in responsible AI research, and promote enhanced infrastructure and training for researchers in Canada and the UK.


“Artificial intelligence is transforming all industries and sectors, opening up more opportunities for Canadians. Today, we take one step further toward ensuring that AI innovation and growth builds competitive and resilient economies, and maximizes the social and health benefits in both Canada and in the UK.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Science, Innovation and Industry

The responsible use of AI demands as much attention to its impact on society as to the science itself. I am delighted that these new projects will inform the design of AI technologies, which will maximize their uptake and realize their societal benefits, while mitigating potential harms.”

Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Building strong partnerships across disciplines, populations, sectors and countries is central to research excellence. This unique interdisciplinary collaboration between partners in Canada and the United Kingdom in such a thriving area will generate world-class scientific and engineering knowledge, talent and expertise benefiting human kind.”

Alejandro Adem, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

The responsible development and application of artificial intelligence has the potential to extend our impact in ways we can hardly imagine today. These projects not only capture the imagination, they also reflect a robust international collaborative approach to addressing critical research issues of our time.  I am very proud to see the collaboration between the Government of Canada through its federal research funding agencies and our sister agencies in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Michael J. Strong, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

“The increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation in our lives is generating a range of challenges and opportunities that demand better understandings and sophisticated solutions. This raises social, technical and cultural questions that the social sciences in collaboration with other disciplines can help address.

“Recent work has revealed that there is not enough interdisciplinary collaboration in AI research, and that building bridges between the mathematical and computational sciences and other disciplines will enrich the field.

“Collaborating with Canadian funding agencies (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and other UK Research and Innovation research councils (the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council) on these projects, using an interdisciplinary approach, will contribute to the inclusive, responsible and impactful development of AI technologies, and address important economic, societal, health and global challenges.”  

Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair, Economic and Social Research Council

Quick facts

Associated links


Michelle Paradis
Communications Advisor
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Tel.: 343-549-6141  

Tamera Jones
Economic and Social Research Council

Media Relations
Innovation, Science, and Economic
Development Canada
Tel.: 343-291-1777

Véronique Simard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Tel.: 343-291-1710

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