CIFAR names eight new AI chairs as part of second phase of federal AI strategy

CIFAR AI chairs 2023
CIFAR also awarded five-year renewals to seven AI chairs appointed in 2017.

The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) continues to add and renew AI chairs as part of the second phase of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy.

CIFAR named eight new AI chairs on Thursday. Edmonton’s Amii appointments include Bei Jiang and J.Ross Mitchell; Montréal’s Mila appointments are Derek Nowrouzezahrai, Catherine Régis, and Adriana Romero Soriano; while the Vector Institute will take in Gautam Kamath, Renjie Liao, and Sivan Sabato.

The eight new chairs bring the total number to 126.

Researchers who were originally appointed between 2017 to 2018 have had their programs renewed.

CIFAR is responsible for implementing the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy alongside Canada’s three major AI institutes: Amii, Mila, and the Vector Institute. The Canadian government established its national AI strategy in 2017, providing $125 million for the first phase. The second phase was allocated $443 million as part of Budget 2021. These latest chair appointments are the second set since the Pan-Canadian AI strategy entered phase two in 2022.

The chairs appointed by CIFAR are meant to support Canadian understanding and research in the strategy’s priority areas, which include health, energy, the environment, fundamental science, and the responsible use of AI.

Once appointed to AI chair, CIFAR provides the researchers with long-term, dedicated funding to support training and research in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

While phase one of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy focused on research, phase two is focused on the commercialization and standardization of AI, in addition to attracting talent.

Through the funds allocated under the second phase, researchers who were originally appointed between 2017 to 2018 have had their programs renewed. Juan Felipe Carrasquilla Álvarez, Roger Grosse, Sanja Fidler, David Fleet, Daniel Roy, Frank Rudzicz, and Graham Taylor are all receiving five-year renewals.

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AI has been a focus for the federal government of late, even outside the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. Bill C-27, which if passed would enact a regulatory framework for AI systems in Canada among other proposed privacy laws in the legislation, was tabled in the House of Commons in 2022. Earlier this month, Canada’s privacy commissioner launched an investigation into OpenAI’s ChatGPT in response to a complaint alleging “the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information without consent.”

Ongoing funding for Canada CIFAR AI Chairs is advancing research in a range of fundamental and applied AI topics, such as drug discovery and machine learning for health, autonomous vehicles, materials discovery, human‐AI interaction, natural language processing, and more.

Featured image courtesy CIFAR.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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