IVADO’s R3AI project gets $124.5-million grant

R3AI IVADO’s project to develop artificial intelligence that’s robust, reasoning and responsible, has been awarded a $124.5-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The project is led by IVADO, a consortium made up of Université de Montréal (UdeM), its affiliated schools Polytechnique Montréal and HEC Montréal, and partners Université Laval and McGill University. The grant will be leveraged to generate a total of $500 million over seven years to support AI research, teaching and knowledge transfer at IVADO.

“This major grant confirms Montreal’s global leadership in AI and will support a very ambitious project,” said Luc Vinet, IVADO’s chief executive officer. “R3AI will focus on the key issues raised by AI and also increase AI adoption in all sectors, from health technologies to education and social systems.” This challenge will be taken up by group led by UdeM computer science professor and IVADO scientific director Yoshua Bengio, along with several hundred researchers from a variety of disciplines, including 48 soon-to-be-hired professors.

The three R’s

The R3AI project aims not only to create the AI of tomorrow but also to develop the science behind socially responsible AI adoption. The ‘R3’ refers to what IVADO sees as the three essential characteristics that must be prioritized in AI development: “robust” (AI must rely on sound models and applications), “reasoning” (AI must be explainable, causal and modular), and “responsible” (AI must be ethical and inclusive).

Another goal of R3AI is to use AI to accelerate discoveries in the sciences. To begin with, the project will target four sectors: the discovery of new molecules, remediation for environmental emergencies, the development of “learning health systems,” and supply chain management in the context of uncertainty.

In general, the project’s mission is to harness AI to serve society. More than 150 business and civil society partners supported the grant proposal and will be associated with the project. IVADO is also committed to involving Indigenous and other under-represented communities in both research and knowledge mobilization activities.

This new initiative comes with a year and a half to go in the Données au service des Canadiens project, which led to the creation of IVADO under a $93-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund in 2016. In addition to confirming Montreal’s position as a global leader in AI, the R3AI project will give Canada a major competitive advantage in this sector, in a way that aligns with its values.