Summit for Responsible Innovation and Technology

Artificial intelligence robot

On October 23, 2019, Waterloo’s Council for Responsible Innovation and Technology (CRIT) held a University-wide summit to explore bringing together individuals working in ethical innovation. 

Through keynote presentations, lightning talks and collaborative workshops, spanning research, pedagogy, outreach and connection, participants, including faculty, staff, students and members of the community, envisioned how  a responsible future of innovation and technology could transform our culture at Waterloo. 

CRIT would like to acknowledge Kathryn S. Plaisance, B. Courtney Doagoo, Chloé St. Amand, and student facilitators from Knowledge Integration for their outstanding contributions to this event. 



8:30 a.m. 

Registration and Continental Breakfast

9 a.m.

Opening Remarks 

Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International


Introduction and Mandate of Waterloo Council for Responsible Innovation and Technology (CRIT)

Kathryn S. Plaisance, Associate Professor, Knowledge Integration

9:30 a.m.

Keynote: Bridging Ethics, Robotics and AI in Engineering Practice - Notes from the Field

Jason Millar Assistant Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Ottawa, and Canada Research Chair in Ethical Engineering of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

As an engineer and philosopher, Jason Millar is an expert in ethical engineering and the emerging ethical issues associated with robotics and artificial intelligence who encourages the integration of ethical thinking into daily design workflow.

In his keynote presentation, Professor Millar will consider the promise and perils of robotics and AI and how integrating ethics into the design of such technologies has thus gained a sense of urgency. For him, the question remains: "How should we integrate ethical considerations into engineering and computer science practice?" Answers to that question are not obvious. With this in mind, Professor Millar will discuss his research on the ethical engineering of robotics and AI, focusing specifically on some of the approaches, tools and methods that he has found useful. In particular, he will explore the use of Metaphor Hacking and Social Failure Mode Analysis as fun and promising ethical tools that can help connect ethics and engineering practice.

Keynote: Who the computer sees: Visions of bias in AI

Moderated by: B. Courtney Doagoo, AI and Society Fellow, University of Ottawa, Centre for Law, Technology and Society

Carla Fehr, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Waterloo and Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy

Carla Fehr studies how diversity within research communities and teams promotes excellent scientific and technological research. Her work benefits from the support of the National Science Foundation, the National Science and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Professor Fehr consults widely on improving the climate in academic departments and she is an award-winning teacher.

In her keynote presentation, Professor Fehr will discuss the following: Rather than providing the objectivity suggested by the cool logic of machine learning, algorithms abound that produce predictable, yet likely unintentional, racist and sexist outcomes. Why? Because they mirror the current and historical biases in our culture—biases that are often built into our educational, research and development, and types of workers that are likely to benefit and be hurt by the coming entrepreneurial institutions. Professor Fehr will explore how addressing the culture of these human biases will help make better tech.

11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:30 a.m.

Table Topics  & Catered Lunch

An audience-led discussion on critical questions in the design, development, and application of responsible innovation and technology

12:45 p.m.

Lightning Talks with Waterloo faculty and students

Anita Layton, Professor, Applied Mathematics, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematical Biology and Medicine, Chair, Waterloo's Research Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council

  • Professor Layton and her graduate student recently developed a tool that combines infrared technology with computer analysis to identify children with autism spectral disorder based on how they scan faces. In this talk, she will briefly describe the tool and highlight some of the ethical issues it evokes. Professor Layton will also mention her work as Chair of the Research Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council at Waterloo, an important role given the need for a diversity of researchers to ensure the ethical development of new technologies. 

Joel Blit, Associate Professor, Economics, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance and Innovation 

  • Professor Blit will discuss the impact that AI is likely to have on our labour force, the AI revolution, and what might be appropriate policy responses.

Marcel O’Gorman, Professor, English Language and Literature, University Research Chair, and Founding Director, Critical Media Lab  

  • Professor O'Gorman will pose the question: "What role do the arts and humanities have to play in fostering responsible innovation and technology?" and look at policy making, critical design, and cross-disciplinary curriculum as interventions in a “Tech for Good” ecology.

Maura Grossman, Research Professor, Cheriton School of Computer Science, and Director, Women in Computer Science

  • Professor Grossman will describe her experience teaching a joint course at Waterloo and Osgoode Hall Law School in the seemingly unbridgeable divide between the cultures of science and engineering, on the one hand, and law and policy, on the other, in order to develop well-rounded individuals prepared to solve the world’s most pressing problems.  She asks, is it possible to find commonality through interdisciplinarity and diversity?

Kuil Schoneveld, Undergraduate Student, Knowledge Integration and Philosophy, and recipient of the Global Undergraduate Award in Philosophy

  • Kuil will provide an overview of his experience as an undergraduate student in Systems Design Engineering, his transfer into Knowledge Integration, and how both have informed his current undergraduate thesis: instilling moral virtue in artificial agents. In this project, he investigates both the difficulties of building the moral agents and the ethical implications of doing so.

Alexander Wong, Associate Professor, Systems Design Engineering, Canada Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence and Medical Imaging

  • Machine learning, especially deep learning, has led to a revolution of artificial intelligence and has now begun to proliferate across industries and society. However, with this increase usage comes the challenge of trust and responsibility in the AI algorithms that are being released into the wild. In this talk, Professor Wong will explore advances in the areas of transparency and explainability in AI, as well as the notion of data auditing for understanding biases and errors that can guide AI in the wrong direction.
1:45 p.m. Coffee Break
2:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions 

Hands-on sessions to provide input on shaping the direction of responsible innovation and technology at Waterloo

3:30 p.m.

Town Hall 

Bringing together diverse perspectives to advance responsible innovation and technology and transform the culture at Waterloo

4:15 p.m.

Reception and Networking

Join us for light refreshments and an opportunity to network and build connections

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