The project is led by York University and supported by federal government funding
Osgoode Hall Law School has announced the appointment of law professor Pina D'Agostino as inaugural vice-director of a pioneering $ 318-million interdisciplinary research project called Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society.
The historic seven-year project aims to ensure that cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are used for the benefit of humankind. The project will receive $105.7 million in federal government support through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), with $82.8 million allocated to York University and $22.8 million to Queen's University, its institutional partner on the project. York will contribute an additional $126 million over the project's life, with further contributions committed by other collaborating partners.
D'Agostino is a law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, specializing in intellectual property (IP), technology and innovation law and policy. She joined Osgoode in 2006. The Ontario government has recently appointed her to the board of directors of the Toronto-based Ontario Centre of Innovation, which supports startups and helps commercialize research developed by Ontario colleges, universities and research hospitals.
Six other Osgoode professors will join D'Agostino to work on this project. These professors are Valerio De Stefano, Karen Drake, Jeffrey Hewitt, Deborah McGregor, Roxanne Mykitiuk and Jonathon Penney. Osgoode's legal experts will join eight faculty members from York and three from Queen's to focus on how emerging technology transforms society and how the identified risks and benefits for humanity could be balanced.
Dean Mary Condon congratulated all seven Osgoode faculty members for their involvement in the project. "The legal expertise, innovative thinking and leadership experience of our faculty members, led by Professor D'Agostino, will make a critical contribution to this important research."
"As we confront the rapid rise of powerful and potentially disruptive technologies like AI, our legislative and legal responses will help determine if and how they contribute to society's well-being," Condon said.
Neuroscience research professor Doug Crawford will serve as the inaugural scientific director for the project. York University's Centre for Indigenous Knowledges & Languages director Sean Hillier will serve as the inaugural associate director.