Projects by our researchers Yannick Dufresne and Richard Khoury funded under OBVIA's calls for innovative projects

OBVIA recently announced the funding of five new research projects related to the societal impacts of artificial intelligence. Among these, two projects from IID member or collaborator researchers, Yannick Dufresne (Faculty of Social Sciences) and Richard Khoury (Faculty of Science and Engineering), have been selected. 

Frankenstein syndrome and AI: better understanding the impact of cultural factors on attitudes towards digital

Researcher: Yannick Dufresne

The new digital data and the advent of AI will have an unprecedented impact on the history of humanity, and its promises in the most diverse fields (e.g. health, transportation, energy, etc.) are numerous. From fraud detection to more effective treatment of certain diseases, the advances made possible by AI and other digital technologies are numerous. However, these innovative technologies raise their share of ethical issues (e.g. management of sensitive data or respect of privacy), in addition to generating discomfort among many citizens, who are wary of solutions using AI and intelligent algorithms. An emerging literature suggests that certain cultural factors explain attitudes towards new technologies. These factors would differentiate East Asian peoples from Western peoples.

In this perspective, this research project wishes, through surveys of Canadians and Japanese and different methods of automated textual analysis to analyze the discourse of public decision makers:

  1. propose a reliable and valid measure of the social acceptability of AI and digital issues that is sensitive to the particularities of Canada and Japan but comparable between the two countries;
  2. understand the key factors that influence the social acceptability of these issues, and examine the extent to which social acceptability is rooted in deep cultural factors;
  3. to identify the interventions of Canadian and Japanese public policy makers regarding AI, and to examine the extent to which the discourse of elected officials is in synergy with public opinion in each country.

This project, beyond its theoretical and methodological contribution to a topic that is still under-explored, will provide reliable and representative data to public decision-makers in both countries in order to guide the reflection for a responsible and socially acceptable integration of AI within our societies. Finally, this research project counts on a close collaboration with two Japanese researchers, always with the aim of studying social acceptability by taking into account the sensitivities and particularities of the two contexts under study.

About the researcher

Professeure agrégé, Faculté des sciences sociales
Titulaire de la Chaire de leadership en enseignement (CLE) des sciences sociales numériques

Yannick est professeur et titulaire de la Chaire de leadership en enseignement (CLE) en sciences sociales numériques au Département de science politique à l’Université Laval. Il est membre du GRCP, de la Chaire sur la démocratie et les institutions parlementaires, du Centre de recherche sur les données massives, du Centre d’études sur la citoyenneté démocratique et du Centre d’analyse des politiques publiques.

Il détient un doctorat en science politique de l’Université de Toronto (2015). Ses champs d’expertise sont l’étude de l’opinion publique, les études électorales, la psychologie politique, et la communication politique. Ses recherches se concentrent principalement sur les processus démocratiques et les stratégies politiques à l’ère des données à grande échelle (Big Data). Il fut récipiendaire de bourses doctorales et post-doctorales offertes par le Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (CRSH), la Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) et le Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et Culture, ainsi que de prix académiques tels que la Ken Bryden Scholarship in Canadian Government and Politics et la Tom Easterbrook Scholarship in Communications and the Mass Media.

Le professeur Dufresne a aussi fait partie de l’équipe de créateurs de la Boussole électorale dont diverses versions ont été consacrées aux élections canadiennes, françaises, australiennes ou américaines. Il a notamment publié dans les revues scientifiques suivantes : le British Journal of Political Science, Parlementary Affairs et la Revue Canadienne de Science politique.

Mind the Gap: Representation of women in the Quebec media during the COVID-19 pandemic

Researcher : Richard Khoury

his project aims at analyzing the media representations of women in the Quebec media during the COVID-19 pandemic, from a gender study perspective including its intersectional dimensions. This research is anchored in a methodology borrowed from mixed methods, combining the technological contributions of Artificial Intelligence with the possibilities of understanding and interpretation offered by a thematic content analysis. Initially, our research is based on the intelligent tools of the Gender Gap Tracker (GGT), developed by Pre. Maité Taboada (SFU), which quantifies in real time the representations of men and women in Canadian media, mainly in English.

We will use these tools in a francophone context to quantify the ratio of male to female representation from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2022 in ten major Quebec media. In a second step, we will develop an additional functionality to the GGT in order to proceed to a thematic classification of the press articles analyzed in our corpus. The objective here is to identify recurring themes related to the logic of media representations of women and men. To do so, we want to develop an unsupervised automatic learning method inspired by “Topic Modeling”. In a third and final step, we will conduct a thematic content analysis to explain the meaning of these media representations from an intersectional perspective.

Our results will constitute a solid empirical base from which we will be able to engage in a discussion with the different Quebec media companies and collaborate together in the construction of a more inclusive and self-critical media space on its own practices. In doing so, we hope to actively participate in the consideration of gender issues of inclusion and diversity in the production of information.

About the researcher

Professeur agrégé, Faculté des sciences et de génie, Université Laval

Richard Khoury a obtenu son baccalauréat et sa maîtrise en Génie Électrique et Génie Informatique de l’Université Laval (Québec, QC) en 2002 et 2004 respectivement, et son doctorat en Génie Électrique et Génie Informatique de l’Université de Waterloo (Waterloo, ON) en 2007. De 2008 à 2016, il a été professeur adjoint, puis professeur agrégé, au Département de Génie Logiciel à l’Université Lakehead. En 2016, il a déménagé à l’Université Laval, où il détient le poste de professeur agrégé.

Ses intérêts de recherche sont en forage de données et en traitement du langage naturel, et incluent de plus la gestion des connaissances, l’apprentissage automatique, et l’intelligence artificielle.

About the OBVIA's calls for innovative projects

OBVIA’s innovative calls for projects aim, since 2019, to support research and creation on responsible innovation and major societal transformations associated with AI and digital (NumerIA) and the dynamics that structure them and to support the development of new interdisciplinary research teams while attracting emerging researchers likely to conduct research on the societal impacts of NumerIA.

More information on the innovative projects funded in Stream 4

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