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artificial intelligence | “The window is closing fast,” warn 75 researchers and companies

With Bill C-27, Canada has a golden opportunity to become an international role model in artificial intelligence (AI) management. But the slow pace of adoption means that “the window for action is closing quickly,” denounced the 75 signatories to an open letter published Wednesday in the Journalism.

The group consists of AI researchers and academics such as Yoshua Bengio, Catherine Regis, and Graham Taylor, CEOs of technology companies such as Sam Ramadori (Brainbox) and Frantz Santellemy (LeddarTech), and heads of AI-related organizations such as Julien Billot, AI Scale. It’s a logical follow-up to a call made by nearly 20,000 experts on March 29 to demand a six-month global moratorium on AI development. This call also urged policymakers to establish AI governance.

“There is no doubt that AI offers significant potential for economic growth and societal opportunity, including addressing some of the most pressing health and environmental challenges of our time. Straight to the letter. While these advances are impressive, it is important to recognize that AI systems are shaping Risks that must be taken seriously and addressed quickly. »

long process

An “excellent” measure in this sense, said Joshua Bengio, who contributed to Bill C-27, which was introduced by the Trudeau government in June 2022 and which has been the subject of a confrontation with the conservative opposition delaying its adoption. to draft the open letter. “We will definitely be ahead of other countries. There are things that can be improved […], but there is an urgent need to act, because there is a fairly rapid progress in artificial intelligence. »

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The researcher wants the C-27 bill and the third part of it, entitled “The Artificial Intelligence and Data Law,” which aims specifically to prevent the reckless use of this technology, to be passed before the end of the parliament session in the middle of next June. A year after the bill was introduced, the law is still only in its second reading.

Mr. Bengio indicates that a wide consultation will then take place before the exact wording of this law will be determined. “We have to start the process immediately, which will take time. What I asked the minister is that we pick up the pace. A two-year consultation process was the initial plan, before ChatGPT arrived. He suggests that some aspects could be framed by regulations, after the law is adopted. “Technology moves fast, while laws are hard to change. »

Adopting an AI framework would have economic benefits, the letter’s signatories stress. “If Canada becomes one of the first countries to adopt its legislation, it will send a strong signal to companies around the world that they can and should look to Canada and to Canadian companies if they want to develop or acquire reliable and responsible AI systems that respect human rights and protect the welfare of human beings.” users.”