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November 15, 2018
AI in Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses the new industrial revolution
By: Jodie Wallis

The AI Effect is a podcast series exploring Canada’s burgeoning artificial intelligence ecosystem. Accenture’s AI leader co-hosts with reporter Amber Mac to look at AI’s explosive growth and the change—challenges and rewards—it can bring for individuals, business and society.

In Episode 1, we talked with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It turns out the PM thinks a lot about AI. We discussed how it affects Canada’s economy and the role the government can play in both encouraging AI development and using it to deliver services to citizens.

He describes AI as computers that draw conclusions based on information the way we humans would, if we had the time and the ability to think as quickly as a machine.

But this tremendous opportunity is not without its challenges. The first is to get Canadians excited about AI. The PM told us in our interview for The AI Effect that this is why the government is investing, including $1 billion in super-clusters that include the AI-powered supply chain cluster in Quebec. The second is finding innovative ways to increase our competitive advantages as businesses.

He told us it’s up to business leaders to leap toward AI. Canada is a good place for this, he says: “This transformative technology is more accessible because we’re surrounded by strong AI ecosystems in Canada.”

Ottawa is also looking at how to bring AI to government services, by predicting what citizens need and doing a better job at delivering. Two decades ago, Canada was a leader in digital government, but we haven’t innovated when others have made tremendous advances—now it’s time to rush toward the future, Trudeau says.

Of course we also need to understand the human impacts that AI brings, particularly to the changing landscape of jobs. The PM draws on previous industrial revolutions for answers. “What we need to do as a society is figure out how to support people as we get through this transition time, but recognize that once we do create new ways of doing things invariably it leads to better and more jobs than ever before”.


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