CIFAR AI & Society workshop

About CIFAR AI & Society workshop

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Learning (CIFAR), in partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNFS), supported a workshop organized by Future Earth, UK Office for AI, the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technologies (OBVIA), and CNRS. The Sustainability in the Digital Age workshop, part of CIFAR’s AI & Society series, took place in Montreal, Canada from September 18-20, 2019. The workshop brought together 29 participants from around the world to explore issues related to the Digital Disruptions for Sustainability (D^2S Agenda), with a particular focus on near-term actions. The Montreal Statement was prepared from discussions held during the CIFAR AI & Society workshop, and outlines immediate action needed in five specific areas:

  • Build a new social contract for the digital age, which addresses individual rights, justice and equity, inclusive access, and environmental sustainability;
  • Ensure open and transparent access to data and knowledge critical to achieving sustainability and equity;
  • Foster public and private collaborations to develop and manage AI and other technologies in support of sustainability and equity;
  • Promote research and innovation to steer digital transformations toward sustainability and equity; and
  • Support targeted communication, engagement and education to advance the social contract.
Group photo of workshop participants

Front (left-right): Andrew Revkin, Rohan D’Souza, Gilles Savard. Middle (left-right): Ana Yang, Lyse Langlois, Mathilde Mougeot, Myanna Lahsen, John Dryzek, Anne-Laure Fougères, Yoshua Bengio, Margie Mendell, Amy Luers, Aarti Gupta. 

Back (left-right): Rebecca Finlay, Sasha Luccioni, Casey Cronin, Peter Brown, Aaron Williamson, Martin Solan, Alexis Hannart, James Leape, Keith Jansa, Benjamin Combes, Dirk Messner.

Photo credit: CIFAR.

Many societal discussions characterize digital technologies as tools, focusing on the tasks they perform and their logistical set-up. However, when exploring the type of transformations that advances in digital technologies can bring about, it becomes necessary to consider issues from different vantage points and to understand how changes in one layer can lead to disruptions in others.

Vantage point model 

Seven points from which to understand a system

A simplified model (A) was discussed and expanded upon by workshop participants (B).

(A)

(B)

These hand-drawn graphics, based on the Vantage Points model by Matt and Gail Taylor, were developed in real-time throughout workshop discussions.  Credits: Aaron Williamson, The ValueWeb. CIFAR AI & Society. Sustainability in the Digital Age workshop, Montreal Sept. 18-20, 2020.

Workshop Participants

Gaga Boskovic

Gaga Boskovic

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

Benjamin Combes

Benjamin Combes

Casey Cronin

Casey Cronin

John Dryzek

John Dryzek

Rohan D'Souza

Rohan D'Souza

Anne-Laure Fougères

Anne-Laure Fougères

Aarti Gupta

Aarti Gupta

Alexis Hannart

Alexis Hannart

Keith Jansa

Keith Jansa

Sana Kharehani

Sana Kharehani

Myanna Lahsen

Myanna Lahsen

Lyse Langlois

Lyse Langlois

James Leape

James Leape

Sasha Luccioni

Sasha Luccioni

Marguerite (Margie) Mendell

Marguerite (Margie) Mendell

Dirk Messner

Dirk Messner

Mathilde Mougeot

Mathilde Mougeot

Jeremy Pitt

Jeremy Pitt

Andrew Revkin

Andrew Revkin

Mario Rivero-Huguet

Mario Rivero-Huguet

Gilles Savard

Gilles Savard

Martin Solan

Martin Solan

Charlie Smoothy

Charlie Smoothy

Ana Yang

Ana Yang

With support from

This workshop was organized as part of CIFAR’s AI & Society workshop series.