Canada Announces Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence

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On May 14, 2019, the Government of Canada announced the creation of its Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence (“Council”). The objectives of the Council include creating more jobs for Canadians, supporting entrepreneurs, and improving Canada’s global position in artificial intelligence (“AI“) research and development.

The Council will consider and identify: (i) innovative approaches to build on Canada’s current AI strengths and to further develop AI; (ii) opportunities for economic growth in Canada; and (iii) other opportunities in the AI sector that will benefit Canadians.

The Council will also establish working groups, including a working group with respect to commercializing value from Canadian-owned AI and data analytics. The Council will provide guidance and recommendations relating to the Canada-France Statement on AI,

Last week, the federal government made public the Declaration of the International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (“IPAI”), and released further details on the Panel that will see Canada and France working together to guide the responsible development of AI. The Panel aims to be a global reference point in the development of AI, rooted in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.

The Council will also support several of Canada’s international AI engagements, such as the G7/G20 and the World Economic Forum.

The Council will be led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada in partnership with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Global Affairs Canada, the Privy Council Office, and other federal departments.

Background on Artificial Intelligence

AI is a set of computer science techniques that enable systems to perform certain tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as speech recognition and decision-making.

There are different types of AI. For example, “Narrow AI” machines perform a narrow set of tasks applied to a narrowly defined problem. An example of narrow AI is virtual assistants. “General AI” machines have human-like cognitive abilities. These machines are capable of reasoning, learning, and decision-making. An example of General AI is AlphaGo, a computer program that defeated a professional human “Go” player. “Artificial Super Intelligence” refers to a concept that may occur some time in the future when AI’s intelligence will be more sophisticated than human intelligence.

There are more than 800 AI companies based in Canada. Toronto has the highest concentration of AI start-ups in the world. In 2018, Canadian AI funding increased for the second consecutive year, with $548 million in venture capital invested in Canadian AI companies.

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