Nicholas Papernot (photo by Matthew Tierney)

Nicolas Papernot receives AI2050 Early Career Fellowship from Schmidt Sciences

Nicolas Papernot, an assistant professor in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. department of electrical and computer engineering at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, has been named an .

Awarded by Schmidt Sciences, the fellowship encourages young researchers to pursue bold and multidisciplinary research in AI for societal benefit.

Papernot was recognized for his project on a technical framework for future AI regulation, which builds on multidisciplinary collaboration with Professor Lisa Austin from U of T’s Faculty of Law and Professor Xiao Wang of Northwestern University’s department of computer science.

The team is exploring how a protocol borrowed from cryptography, called zero-knowledge proof (ZKP), can verify whether an AI model was developed in compliance with certain rules. Their research comes as governments around the world prepare legislation to address the growing power of AI.

“The scope of what we’re trying to achieve is very ambitious,” says Papernot, who is cross-appointed to the department of computer science in the Faculty of Arts & Science and is a faculty member at the Vector Institute and a faculty affiliate at the Schwartz Reisman Institute. “We’re asking how AI will impact society, essentially. It’s hard to do that from just one discipline’s perspective. Thankfully, the Schmidt Sciences organization has stepped up to provide the space needed for such highly exploratory and complex research.”

“As AI technology continues to evolve, it is imperative to simultaneously advance the regulatory and technological frameworks that ensure its safe and ethical use,” says Professor Deepa Kundur, chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering. “Professor Papernot’s work is pivotal because it not only mitigates risks, but also maximizes the technology’s application potential, making it a cornerstone for future innovations.”