Alan Chan

Alan Chan

PhD Student



I am a PhD student at Mila, advised by Nicolas Le Roux. Previously at Amii + UAlberta, I was an MSc student with Martha White. My research interests broadly include value alignment and AI governance. Recently, I have been interested in interpretability and assessing the implicit knowledge in language models. Please feel free to reach out to chat about anything!


  • Value alignment
  • AI governance


  • PhD in Computer Science, 2024

    Université de Montréal

  • MSc in Computing Science, 2020

    University of Alberta

  • BSc in Mathematics, 2018

    University of Alberta


I am broadly interested in the scientific and governance work in aligning AI systems with human values. My scientific research revolves around understanding and controlling the values that machine‑learning models express, with a focus on the measurement of harms from language models. On the governance side, I have recently been interested in regulation for the explainability of algorithmic systems.

Recent Papers

Loss of Control: "Normal Accidents" and AI Systems

A thread in recent work on the social impacts of AI systems is whether certain properties of a domain should preclude the application …

The Limits of Global Inclusion in AI Development

Those best-positioned to profit from the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) systems are those with the most economic power. …

Approaching Ethical Impacts in AI Research: The Role of a Graduate Student

Extant societal challenges and the problematic applications of algorithmic systems so far have motivated broader consideration of the …

Inverse Policy Evaluation for Value-based Sequential Decision-making

Value-based methods for reinforcement learning lack generally applicable ways to derive behavior from a value function. Many approaches …

Training Recurrent Neural Networks Online by Learning Explicit State Variables

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) allow an agent to construct a state-representation from a stream of experience, which is essential in …

Recent & Upcoming Talks

MSc Seminar

My seminar for my MSc thesis.

Problems with Fair ML

This talk will be a mostly non-technical dive into problems that I find with a lot of fair ML research today. I will begin with some …

Recent Posts


One of the defining experiences of my intellectual development was the entirety of high school social studies, two years of which I spent with somebody who has shaped my thought the most critically.


I always struggle with the languages box on applications: what do I put for Cantonese and Mandarin? I’m sure that I don’t speak them fluently or even moderately well, but I’m not a beginner either.

Talking to Strangers

My last daily chat with a stranger was several months ago. Last year, motivated mostly by the positive experiences of a friend who had done a similar challenge, I decided to find somebody new—usually a student on campus—to talk to every day.

Coping and Learning

When I was in junior high school, I had already grown a shell of isolation. When we feel lonely, especially after a prolonged period of time, it is more difficult to reach out, even accept, the social interaction we need to warm the frigidity in our hearts.

Conflicts in Categorizing

Disclaimers I use the word category quite loosely in this piece. I do not refer to the mathematical field of Category Theory, although there may be some interesting, unexplored connections there.