Artificial Intelligence: Real Implications
While Montreal has emerged in the past five years as a global hub for artificial intelligence (AI) research and talent recruitment, Ottawa is where Canadian policy in the revolutionary realm is being generated, and that makes it a hot topic for politicians, public servants, journalists and consultants in the capital. In March of 2017, the Trudeau government announced $125 million in funding for a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy with a goal of making Canada a world leader in the field. And when the Innovation Super- clusters Initiative unveiled its five winning bids earlier this year, the SCALE AI supercluster was among them. While AI — the replication of intelligent outcome optimization once the exclusive domain of humans now shared by machines — has the potential to offer undisputed real-world benefits, there remain many public policy, implementation, and ethical questions around the technology. Before the Bell hosts Catherine Clark and David Akin each hosted a panel of experts and stakeholders to discuss those very questions.
During the Pulse segment of the event, hosted by Akin, Chantal Bernier, counsel and head of Dentons’ Canadian privacy and cybersecurity practice, said that the current legislation may not be able to keep up with the consent implications for AI.
“The AI takes in data, for example my name, address, and purchase history, and creates a profile on me that I’ve never granted my consent for,” said Bernier. “The consent and transparency implications of artificial intelligence would require the modernization of the legal framework.”
Marc-Etienne Ouimette is director of public policy and government relations at Element AI, the Montreal company co-founded by globally recognized AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio. Ouimette said that Canada has been ahead of the curve
when it comes to investing in the development of AI.
“The story of the development of AI itself is a microcosm of this false divide between fundamental research and applied research, and the need to fund research in the first place,” said Ouimette. “We wouldn’t have this AI breakthrough in Canada were it not for the fact that the government invested over a twenty or thirty-year period into what led to the breakthroughs in deep learning and neural networks.”
Dan Duguay, principal at Tactix, said that there is a gap between government and industry based on the difference in level of understanding of where technology is and any government’s ability to keep up with the head-spinning pace of innovation.
“That’s a gap that’s difficult to bridge, if industry and government aren’t talking the right way and understanding each other,” said Duguay. “The second problem that AI is demonstrating is the rate at which that technology evolves and changes, and the rate at which government stays on top of it. There’s an asynchronous nature to that which is even worse in AI.”
Duguay worried that the gap may become unmanageable without principles-based legislation.
During the Policy segment hosted by Clark, Sigfried Usal, managing director of cortAIx at the Thales’ Centre of Research and Technology in Artificial Intelligence expertise in Montreal, said that the greater connectivity of systems is producing a lot more data than it used to.
“You have to deal with that massive data
The problem that AI is demonstrating is the rate at which that technology evolves and changes, and the rate at which government stays on top of it. There’s an asynchronous nature to that which is even worse in AI.” — Dan Duguay Principal at Tactix