Skip Header Navigation

About RBC > Media Newsroom > News Releases > Borealis AI launches RESPECT AI™ program to bring ethical and responsible AI to all

Borealis AI launches RESPECT AI™ program to bring ethical and responsible AI to all

New survey shows that businesses want to practice more ethical AI, but face barriers in doing so

TORONTO, October 1, 2020 - A new survey has found that, while the majority of Canadian businesses believe it is important to implement artificial intelligence (AI) in an ethical and responsible way, 93 per cent experience barriers in doing so, citing cost, time and lack of understanding as the main issues.

As part of its commitment to advancing the development of responsible AI and Machine Learning (ML), Borealis AI has developed RESPECT AI™, a new online hub that brings open source research code, tutorials, academic research and lectures to the AI community, helping to make ethical AI available to all.

“Responsible and safe AI is critical to maintaining trust and accountability, but as this new survey shows, many companies and developers do not have the resources to implement AI safely and ethically,” explains Dr. Foteini Agrafioti, Head of Borealis AI and RBC’s Chief Science Officer. “RESPECT AI™ will help enable secure, fair, ethical and trusted AI products and a more responsible adoption of AI technology across industries.”

According to the survey, conducted on behalf of RBC by Maru/Matchbox, 77 per cent of those currently using AI/analytics agree it is important for businesses to implement AI in an ethical way. However, 92 per cent have concerns in dealing with the ethical challenges that AI represents, and just 53 per cent have someone responsible for ethical development of data and AI technology. Only 23 per cent of businesses are able to fully explain the decisions and actions taken by their AI models.

The results of the survey also highlighted some significant challenges that businesses face in terms of bias such as race and gender. The vast majority (88 per cent) of companies believe they have bias within their organization, but almost half (44 per cent) do not understand the challenges that bias presents in AI.

“At RBC, we see a world where every client interaction and business decision is informed by AI. Because our relationship with our clients is built on a foundation of trust, practicing ethical and responsible AI is not an option – it’s the only way we do business,” says Bruce Ross, Group Head, Technology & Operations, RBC. “RESPECT AI™ is proof of our commitment to building a healthy technology ecosystem within and beyond financial services.”

RESPECT AI™ will focus on five critical areas that contribute to responsible AI, and include resources in the following areas:

  • Robustness: The ability of an AI system to defend against adversarial attacks. This component of RESPECT AI™ includes Advertorch, Borealis AI’s well-established adversarial robustness research code, with more than 1,000 downloads per month, which implements a series of attack and defense strategies that can be used to protect against risks. This tool is offered to AI researchers and scientists that aim to advance the field of robustness in machine learning.
  • Data Privacy: Maintaining trust and integrity while leveraging large data sets is an essential component of responsible AI. This section includes scientific publications and research code on Private Synthetic Data Generation, a method that allows scientists to use large data sets without risking the exposure of personal identifiable information. This tool can be used by researchers to advance the field of AI privacy by proposing novel solutions to this critical issue.
  • Fairness: The ability to mitigate the challenge of bias in AI models. This area includes technical tutorials on bias as well as guidance for organizations to address bias.
  • Model Governance: Stakeholders need to trust that models are safe, compliant and robust. This speaks to ensuring accountability and reliability in AI, which is critical to the successful application of AI models. This section includes expert interviews and guidance for businesses and developers navigating this complex area.
  • Explainability: An understanding of how the ML algorithm learns and makes decisions. Our program includes technical articles and business blogs outlining how explainability can help build trust in AI.

The RESPECT AI™ online hub is now available at, and will be supported with new research code and content releases on an ongoing basis.

About the Survey
Data were collected as part of Maru BizPulse program, operated by Maru/Reports and Maru/Matchbox, which collects and tracks key metrics describing how Canadian businesses are feeling, thinking, and behaving. The survey audience was made up of owners and senior decision-makers with Canadian businesses, with a particular focus on small and midsized businesses. The survey was fielded in September, 2020. All sample was sourced through the Maru/Blue proprietary business panel and partners. A total of 622 responses were collected for this portion of the survey. For more information, please visit

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 86,000+ 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 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at‎

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

RESPECT AI™ stands for Responsible, Ethical, Safe, Private, Equitable and Compliant Technology in AI, encompassing what the platform will contribute to the AI community. The program consists of publicly available scientific research and research code; training material and thought leadership.

The code is intended for AI developers and researchers to use in their own AI research and development. It is not designed for commercial use.

This material is made available under license as-is without any representations or warranties of any kind and in no event will Borealis AI be liable for any damages arising out of the use of the licensed material.

About Borealis AI
Borealis AI is a world-class AI Research center backed by RBC. Recognized for scientific excellence, Borealis AI uses the latest in machine learning capabilities to solve challenging problems in the financial industry. Led by award-winning inventor and entrepreneur Foteini Agrafioti, and with top North American scientists and engineers, Borealis AI is at the core of the bank’s innovation strategy and benefits from RBC’s scale, data and trusted brand. With a focus on responsible AI, natural language processing and reinforcement learning, Borealis AI is committed to building solutions using machine learning and artificial intelligence that will transform the way individuals manage their finances and their futures. For more information please see:

- 30 -

Media Contact:
Stephanie Bannan, RBC Corporate Communications, 416-524-1827