Artificial Intelligence. No longer just the stuff of science fiction, AI is sweeping across the globe and impacting all manner of industry.
“The global artificial intelligence market size was valued at US$95.60 billion in 2021 and is predicted to reach $1,847.58 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 32.9% from 2022 to 2030,” reads a 2023 report from Next Move Strategy Consulting.
In 2017, Canada became the first country to fund a national AI strategy. A year later, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to invest $16 billion over 10 years, promising 16,000 jobs in the process.
“We cannot allow the benefits of the digital world to come at the expense of people’s rights or safety. With the right leadership and policies, we can make sure the digital world makes our lives better, strengthens democracies, and respects rights – all at the same time,” Trudeau tweeted in 2021.
He has since changed his stance on that.
Disagreements between the federal and various provincial governments have stalled progress and Canada has since fallen behind the competition, according to a University of Toronto publication in 2022.
But, what to make from this artificial assistance. Friend, or foe?
Not everyone welcomes the technology with open arms.
The European Union earlier this year passed the Artificial Intelligence Act, making it the first jurisdiction in the world to regulate the technology’s use, and urging the 27 member states making up the EU to follow suit.
Under the legislation, AI applications that pose an “unacceptable risk,” such as government-run social scoring, are banned. The technique is being used to identify dissidents in China.
Meanwhile so-called “high-risk applications,” such as tools that screen and then rank resumes for example, are highly regulated and can be grounds for legal backlash if used improperly.
Some of the world’s most influential people are also raising alarm bells.
Tesla, SpaceX and Starlink founder Elon Musk has affirmed his belief that AI growth needs to be slowed down or paused entirely.
“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon,” Musk once commented.
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban and renowned astrophysicist Dr. Stephen Hawking have also raised concerns over the unchecked proliferation of artificial intelligence.
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own, and re
–design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded,” Hawking told the BBC in an interview before his death in 2018.
The technology itself has applications across the spectrum, from video and audio editing, to writing, idea generation and operating autonomous vehicles.
Quebec-based BrainBox AI uses deep learning, cloud computing and custom algorithms to reduce a building’s carbon emissions.
Toronto’s Deep Genomics is using AI automation to enable a new approach to drug development.
Quebec-based tech consulting firm CGI Inc. is one of the largest publicly traded companies to embrace the technology.
Back to Musk, the billionaire has called for curtailing the speed of AI development for the better part of a decade.
“The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like [Google] DeepMind, you have no idea how fast – it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five-year time frame. Ten years at most,” Musk said in 2014.
But it remains to be seen how quickly regulators will follow the lead of the European Union and ensure artificial intelligence grows in harmony with the speed of life.
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