U of G receives $1M donation to launch ethical AI training modules

TD Bank Group has announced a C$1 million donation to the University of Guelph’s Centre for Advancing Responsible and Ethical Artificial Intelligence or CARE-AI.

The funds, which will be paid out over a five-year period, will be used to launch a series of training modules aimed at mid-career professionals and entrepreneurs who focus on how best to employ data effectively.

They in turn, a release on the announcement states, “will enable their businesses and organizations to recognize and address ethical challenges posed by the increasing use of AI from data privacy concerns to potential biases in hiring and promotion.”

Launched in 2018, CARE-AI involves more than 90 researchers across the University of Guelph campus, supplying AI and machine learning to a range of disciplines. These include human and animal health, environmental sciences, agriculture and agri-food, business and the bio-economy.

Dr. Graham Taylor, a professor at the university’s school of engineering, and academic co-director of CARE-AI, said the training will help equip workers with judgement and data literacy skills that are increasingly required as businesses and other organizations turn to AI for varied uses.

He added that the funding, which will come from an initiative called the TD Ready Commitment, will support the development of three levels of AI training as well as delivery costs for the new program.

“The world is changing,” Taylor said. “More jobs are being affected by automation and people are increasingly working with algorithms. People will need to develop various levels of competency to wield AI-driven tools used for prediction or decision-making.”

An example of this, the release stated, would be an HR department using AI to help screen job applicants or a manufacturer using it to determine the quality of parts.

As AI becomes increasingly pervasive, said Taylor, “mid-career professionals will need this knowledge to improve their career opportunities. Even if they are not building the tools, they are still expected to make use of them in the course of their daily work.”

Dr. Gus Skorburg, a professor at the school’s department of philosophy and co-director of CARE-AI, added that development of responsible AI is a task not only for academics and researchers: “We are appreciative of TD’s support to help us ensure this type of training is available to the public.”

To be known as CARE About AI, the new program will offer three training levels:

  • Entry-level, which organizers say, will rely on videos and social media to provide information about the kinds of AI that may be found in workplaces and everyday lives. They are hoping to launch it this fall.
  • Intermediate level to be launched next year and involve several hours’ worth of modules intended for managers and HR professionals charged with implementing and overseeing AI systems. Expected to reach upwards of 100,000 users, AI experts will cover privacy and fairness implications for consumers or other users.
  • The highest tier, which will be rolled out over the next two years and could reach 1,000 users, will provide comprehensive training to non-AI experts looking to enter careers related to artificial intelligence. Offered by academic and industry professionals through in-person, “bootcamp”-style sessions, the training will conclude with certification.

Amy Hanen, associate vice president, social impact (Canada) with TD Bank Group, said that through the “TD Ready Commitment, the bank’s corporate citizenship strategy, we believe in helping create the conditions people need to succeed and fully participate in a changing world.

“Through CARE About AI, mid-career professional and entrepreneurs will have the ability to learn new skills, and gain increased understanding of AI, which can support their professional growth and development.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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