9 September 2021
Sherbrooke comes together for responsible artificial intelligence development
PRESS RELEASE – In an effort to position Sherbrooke as a major hub and responsible stakeholder in the development and implementation of artificial intelligence in Québec, eight Sherbrooke organizations have jointly signed the Montréal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Among them were the City of Sherbrooke and its paramunicipal economic development organization dedicated to the industrial and technological sectors, Sherbrooke Innopole, and Sherbrooke’s six higher education institutions, i.e. Bishop’s University, the Université de Sherbrooke, the Cégep de Sherbrooke, Champlain College-Lennoxville, CDE Collège, and the Séminaire de Sherbrooke.
Sherbrooke acts as a pioneer by leveraging the municipal organization, its economic development arm in innovation, and all the higher education stakeholders in its region to promote the inclusive, equitable, and environmentally sustainable development of AI.
Some 20 companies in Sherbrooke are currently integrating artificial intelligence into their products or services in various activity sectors. AI is also an active area for training and research at the college and university levels in Sherbrooke.
This commitment is the result of a Sherbrooke Innopole initiative which is also part of an innovation zone project in quantum science and technological applications in Sherbrooke that includes several of the signatory organizations as partners.
The Montréal Declaration is intended as an ethical framework to define and guide AI development for everyone’s well-being. Made public in 2018 following a series of consultations initiated by the Université de Montréal, the Declaration is based on 10 principles: well-being, respect for autonomy, protection of privacy and intimacy, solidarity, democratic participation, equity, diversity inclusion, prudence, responsibility, and sustainable development.
Artificial intelligence refers to systems capable of complex tasks previously believed to be reserved for humans, such as processing large amounts of data, calculating and predicting, learning and adapting answers, etc. The development of AI, however, raises ethical challenges and social risks, such as replicating discriminatory biases, disrupting the organization of work and the labour market, etc. – hence the need to guide AI development for moral and socially desirable purposes.
“The City of Sherbrooke has long been recognized as a knowledge centre and leader in several areas of innovation. Signing the Montréal Declaration is proof of the shared will of the organizations to work together on the major issues raised while developing artificial intelligence and to be stakeholders in a sustainable technological future.”
– Steve Lussier, Mayor of Sherbrooke
“As an economic development organization supporting the start-up and growth of innovative businesses in Sherbrooke, we are receiving a growing number of projects integrating artificial intelligence. With the Montréal Declaration, we are providing a framework to help analyze these projects, structure the support we are offering, and raise awareness among entrepreneurs about the ethical implications of their technologies.”
– Sylvain Durocher, Executive Director, Sherbrooke Innopole
“Bishop’s University is proud to be part of this major initiative. It will help us attract more talents in research in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence, thus responsibly contributing not only to innovation but also the next generation. Additionally, our social and human sciences experts will be able to help solve the many ethical, sociological, and political challenges that emerge from the advances in artificial and quantum intelligence.”
– Miles Turnbull, Vice-Principal Academic and Research, Bishop’s University
“The Université de Sherbrooke, with its continuous commitment to positioning itself as an essential contributor to our society, was one of the first institutions in 2018 to endorse the Montréal Declaration. The principles of this declaration form an ethical framework that will ensure artificial intelligence is developed for morally and socially responsible purposes to make a better world.”
– Jean-Pierre Perreault, Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies, Université de Sherbrooke
“The principles of this declaration align fully with the humanist values of the Cégep and its vision of development. The scientific and technological progress related to artificial intelligence promises major advances, but also entails significant ethical challenges and social risks. Our endorsement of the declaration provides a clear statement in this regard and will help stimulate reflection within the college community, as well as open research opportunities that promote the responsible use of AI.”
– Marie-France Bélanger, Director General, Cégep de Sherbrooke
“Champlain College Lennoxville is a proud a signatory of the Montréal Declaration for Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence in concert with our institutional partners in the region. Technological advances and innovation hold tremendous potential for society and with them the obligation for responsible and inclusive development. Through its’ signature of the Declaration, Champlain Lennoxville is signaling the importance of the principles articulated therein and which are fully aligned with the College’s mission of fostering the individual success of our students and their development as well-rounded, responsible and informed citizens of the world.”
– Nancy Beattie, Director, Champlain College-Lennoxville
“As an educational institution, the Séminaire de Sherbrooke promotes educating its students on digital citizenship and ethical responsibility in the use of technologies, an essential and fundamental component that will consolidate the 10 principles of the Montréal Declaration in AI.”
– Isabelle Chaîné, Director of Educational Services, Séminaire de Sherbrooke
Source: Sherbrooke Innopole
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