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Canada Spearheads Ethical AI Regulation

AI & Data act seek to balance innovation with ethical safeguards
Canada is harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by driving a responsible and ethical approach to its development and use, backed by substantial research investment, proposed legislative measures, and active international collaboration.

The government is proactively engaging with international partners to ensure the responsible development and use of AI. Canada’s strong reputation in ethical AI practices has positioned it as a leader, especially within international groups like the G7 and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The nation played a key role in launching the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, a collaborative effort by 29 member governments to align AI technologies with shared values. Discussions with leaders from similar-minded countries on future global AI regulation strategies are ongoing.

Protecting Canadians with the AI and Data Act

Given the potential risks of large-scale deployment of advanced generative AI systems, the government is proposing a new Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA).

As part of Bill C-27, the act intends to ensure safe and trustworthy utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems in line with Canadian values. AIDA serves as the groundwork for an inclusive regulatory system to guide AI innovation positively, fostering its responsible adoption. The government plans to involve a broad range of stakeholders for consultation to align outcomes with national values. Highlighting the need for international cooperation given the global digital economy, Canada aims to synchronize its approach with global partners. Amid worries about AI’s possible harms, the legislation aims to assure both citizens and AI stakeholders of the government’s commitment to regulate AI without hindering innovation or unjustly stigmatizing the industry.

“Today’s research is tomorrow’s innovation. In the case of artificial intelligence, Canada is home to some of the world’s leading AI researchers and the world’s first fully funded AI strategy. Through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, our government is proud to move even further ahead by investing $124 million into responsible artificial intelligence research. Canada will continue to lead on AI research, governance and innovation, including in drug discovery, health technology and climate change mitigation.” 

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

The implementation of AI in crucial sectors like judiciary and arts has given rise to numerous ethical dilemmas. In the court of law, AI’s potential to evaluate cases efficiently and without human bias can revolutionize the judicial system, but ethical challenges such as lack of transparency, potential bias in AI algorithms, privacy concerns, and potential infringements on human rights need addressing. Similarly, the utilization of AI in arts brings up questions around authorship and creativity. AI’s ability to recreate artworks or finish unfinished symphonies necessitates a reevaluation of “authorship”, separating human creativity from AI creations. With risks to artists’ rights, compensation, and creative value chain integrity, new ethical frameworks are crucial for balancing innovation and ethics.

Investing in AI Research: A Paradigm Shift

Today, Rachel Bendayan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, highlighted an investment of more than $124 million on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. The funding, provided to the Université de Montréal for the R3AI: Shifting Paradigms for a Robust, Reasoning, and Responsible Artificial Intelligence and its Adoption initiative, is part of a broader $1.4 billion investment in 11 large-scale research initiatives. This investment aims to empower researchers at Canadian universities to build on their areas of strength and attract global talent.

“The Université de Montréal is home to ground-breaking research that is key to transforming the responsible adoption of artificial intelligence. The federal government is proud to support our researchers and our local universities with projects that lead to important social and economic benefits for all Canadians.”  

Rachel Bendayan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

The R3AI initiative will deploy new responsible AI design and adoption strategies in areas critical to Canada. These areas include molecule discovery, health system improvements, and climate change mitigation. By focusing on breakthroughs in areas such as treating and preventing brain and heart diseases, reducing community carbon emissions, and promoting responsible AI use, robotics, and advanced computing, the CFREF aims to help Canadian researchers pioneer global insights and strengthen Canada’s social and technological innovation ecosystems.

“Our R3AI project takes us down a necessary path: using a strongly interdisciplinary approach to develop reasoned, robust, resolutely responsible artificial intelligence that serves the common good. Thanks to the Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant, the Université de Montréal and its partners will be able to strengthen the leadership we have built up over the years.” 

Daniel Jutras, Rector of the Université de Montréal

Implementing Responsible AI for a Better Future

Established in 2014, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) aims to make Canadian universities global research leaders. CFREF invests around $200 million annually via a competitive review process. This helps selected post-secondary institutions amplify their strengths to a global scale. The Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat administers the fund, representing three federal research funding agencies.

The first phase of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy (PCAIS) was launched in 2017 with a $125 million investment. Since its inception, the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy (PCAIS) has recruited over 125 esteemed researchers as Canada CIFAR AI Chairs. The national AI institutes have trained 1,600+ graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in cutting-edge AI techniques and applications. The PCAIS also encourages interdisciplinary AI research, facilitating collaborations between AI specialists and experts in sectors like healthcare, environmental science, and public policy.

This has spurred innovations that address some of the most pressing societal issues. In its second phase, PCAIS plans to further strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in AI research and training. The strategy aims to boost international AI talent attraction and retention with enhanced funding. It also seeks to expand AI education and training programs, accelerating the application of AI research into solutions that benefit all Canadians. This includes fostering industry and public sector partnerships, integrating AI research advancements effectively into Canadian economy and society.


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