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RBC Foundation supports advancing ethical AI with $1 million commitment to CIFAR

Logos RBC and CIFAR

MONTREAL, October 9, 2018 - At the official opening of the Borealis AI Montréal lab today, Dave McKay, President & CEO of RBC, announced the RBC Foundation will donate $1 million over the next three years to the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR). The commitment will support research and initiatives aimed at furthering the study of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) practices.

CIFAR is leading the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, working in partnership with three world renowned AI institutes – the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) in Edmonton, Mila in Montreal and the Vector Institute in Toronto. CIFAR will work closely with Borealis AI, an RBC institute for research, to deliver on key aspects of the strategy.

“The wide-spread adoption of AI means research on responsible and ethical AI practices is extremely important,” said Dr. Foteini Agrafioti, Chief Science Officer, RBC and Head, Borealis AI. “These aspects of the technology cannot be an after-thought. That’s why we are taking steps to invest in advancing the ethical principles surrounding AI with this commitment to CIFAR.”

The Foundation’s donation will be critical in delivering three CIFAR initiatives:

  • Catalyst Grants Supporting new research collaborations and exchange between researchers at any Canadian institution in novel areas of AI research. Two of the awards will be in support of research in the areas of privacy, accountability, transparency and bias in machine learning. Recipients will be awarded with up to $100,000 per year for two years to support their research.
  • Training the next generation of experts – Supporting training opportunities on the social implications of AI, including equity, diversity and inclusion, within the context of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.
  • AIX Research Workshops – CIFAR will deliver a series of research workshops across Canada that will convene researchers across disciplines to understand the opportunity to apply AI in in areas like energy, the environment, neuroscience, cancer, public health and ethics.

“We’re grateful that RBC Foundation and Borealis AI have chosen to support and cooperate in this important work. CIFAR fellows are pioneers in the underlying science of AI, and we also intend to catalyze research into its ethical and social implications for society,” said Dr. Alan Bernstein, President & CEO of CIFAR.

About CIFAR
Established in 1982, CIFAR is Canada’s global research institute, bringing together nearly 400 of the world’s very best scientists and scholars to address questions of importance to the world. In 2017, CIFAR was chosen by the Canadian government to lead the $125 million Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy.

About Borealis AI
Borealis AI, an RBC Institute for Research, is a curiosity-driven research centre dedicated to achieving state-of-the-art in machine learning. Established in 2016, with labs in Toronto/Waterloo, Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver, Borealis AI supports open academic collaborations and teams up with world-class research centres in artificial intelligence. With a focus on ethical AI that will help communities thrive, the machine learning scientists perform fundamental and applied research in areas such as reinforcement learning, natural language processing, deep learning and unsupervised learning to solve ground-breaking problems in diverse fields. For more information please see: www.borealisai.com.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 84,000+ employees who bring our vision, values and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.‎

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how at rbc.com/community-sustainability.

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For more information, please contact:
Cheryl Brean, RBC Corporate Communications, 647-971-4296
John Farrow, CIFAR Media Relations Specialist, CIFAR, 416-971-4884