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Canada moves toward AI strategy for government operations

Canada could be making a full-scale pivot to artificial intelligence (AI) for government processes in the coming weeks, following regulators’ development of a national strategy.

The Treasury Board is taking the lead in the quest to integrate AI into government operations but hints at a broader collaborative effort by sister agencies. Treasury Board President Anita Anand noted that the move is the first attempt by the government to embrace AI after lone attempts by individual agencies.

The plans for a blueprint for adoption have since reached frenetic levels, with the Treasury Board hosting a group of AI experts in Gatineau to discuss a national strategy. Drawn from academia, civil service, and the tech ecosystem, the experts brainstormed ideas to improve the efficiency of government processes using AI and other emerging technologies.

The AI strategy will not focus solely on individual interactions with the government but will also cover corporate relationships with the federal government, which will be subject to several restrictions. Early reports indicate that AI offerings will not be used for confidential matters over fears of data leaks and foreign espionage concerns.

“It is a big step towards a cohesive and consistent federal approach to AI,” said Anand. “The integration will add greater efficiencies but also simplify the interactions of the Canadian population and organizations and businesses with federal services.”

If all goes according to plan, government agencies will rely on AI for routine tasks like press releases, data analysis, and sorting out large swathes of data to determine priority. The blueprint is expected to contain plans to retrain government staff on necessary AI skills, but there are concrete plans to hire AI experts to fast-track adoption levels.

For now, Canadian authorities remain coy on a tentative launch date for the AI blueprint but conservative estimates predict a Q3 release. The government appears to be proceeding with caution with AI following a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) pointing at the potential for fraud concerning deepfakes.

“Deepfakes and other advanced AI technologies threaten democracy as certain actors seek to capitalize on uncertainty or perpetuate ‘facts’ based on synthetic and/or falsified information,” read the CSIS report. “This will be exacerbated further if governments are unable to ‘prove’ that their official content is real and factual.”

An avalanche for adoption

While Canadian authorities are steamrolling toward AI adoption, some private organizations have picked up the gauntlet to incorporate AI into their operations. The technology has made a cameo in manufacturing, hospitality, education, security, and finance, but an embrace by government agencies could push the needle.

Private firms in Canada are appending their signatures to a voluntary federal code of conduct for AI to protect consumers from inherent risks. Lenovo, Mastercard (NASDAQ: MA), Meta (NASDAQ: META), and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) are spearheading the voluntary code by pledging to monitor AI offerings before a commercial rollout and include watermarking features for AI-generated content.

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