The Lab’s Book Project: Toward a Comprehensive and Impactful Approach to Human-Centered AI+

In Progress

Key actors in the AI+ ecosystem increasingly recognize the high importance of developing and deploying AI+ that primarily focuses on improving human life, capacities and well-being. For instance, the last G7 Leaders’ Declaration specifically mentioned the key role of human-centered AI+ (HCAI) for member countries. Yet, there is no clear consensus on what human-centered means or what the best practices to steer that kind of AI+ development are.

HAICU’s book will provide a more solid understanding of the many meanings and normative components of HCAI. Authors will be researchers from the U7+ Alliance network. They will come from different disciplines and different countries. The book will also gather the voices of key players from policy-making and civil society. Two international seminars will be organized along the way.

The Innovative University Report


The first U7+ summit, held in Paris alongside the July 2019 G7, was a unique opportunity for nearly 50 university leaders from 18 countries on all continents to develop a common agenda and framework for university action on global challenges.

At that summit, Université de Montréal agreed to take the lead in working with 12 other universities on the challenge of Digital Innovation and Artificial Intelligence (DI&AI) in higher education. Participants agreed to tackle the following challenge:

Exercis[e] strong leadership, alongside tech companies and governments, in developing and promoting guidelines about how data sciences and digital innovation should be handled. To that end, our universities may seek to establish a first version of a position paper by 2020, that shall be built on the universities’ best practices and whose aim is to shape technological transformations for the broad benefit of society and individual wellbeing.

The result of that project was the publication, in May 2020, of a report called The Innovative University.

Environmental Scan


We do not have a clear idea of what’s happening in the academic world with regard to AI+—what’s is being done, what lessons can be drawn, what the plans of colleges and universities are.

Conducting an environmental scan will help document the promising innovation practices put in place by colleges and universities as well as their views on AI+. It will also help understand the impact of AI+ on education, research, civic engagement and internal processes.

In the coming months, HAICU will define the broader orientations for this project and will start working on a concrete proposal.

Developing an Open Access Course on AI and Discrimination


HAICU will create and launch a short (e.g. 10-hour) open access course on AI and discrimination (and, more broadly, human rights). This project will be driven by Costanza Nardocci, from the Università degli Studi di Milano.

Developing Norms for Academia–Industry Relations


In the last decade, there has been an increasing number of collaborations between academia and industry. Concurrently, the number of researchers receiving direct funding from large technological corporations has also been accelerating upwards at prominent institutions. Recent work has highlighted both the benefits (e.g., increased funding for research) and possible harms (e.g., changed research directions, restrictions on academic freedom) of these relationships. However, existing work has not explored how researchers, universities, and academic venues should act to mitigate these heavily detrimental consequences.

The goal of this project is to develop comprehensive best-practice guidelines/norms surrounding the interaction of academic and industrial actors. In addition to the theoretical/philosophical analysis involved, participants will emphasize the requirement of practicality: the developed guidelines will be easily accessible to researchers and institutions.

This project will be driven by HAICU with the support, among others, of Mohamed Abdalla, a PhD student at the University of Toronto.