Ministerial Question Period: Impacts of Artificial Intelligence

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Minister, I have one more question for you. It is on the larger topic of artificial intelligence, or AI.

You will be aware that yesterday, for the second time in a few weeks, a group of major experts and public figures put out a statement that read, in 22 words:

Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.

This obviously has concerns for your portfolio in terms of law and order as well as being government-wide concerns.

What are your thoughts about what’s happening with AI and what we should be concerned about? It seems to be out of control, and the owners and developers are asking for government to intervene and help out. What are your thoughts?

Hon. Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety: The senator poses perhaps one of the most thought-provoking questions that we are confronted with, in addition to climate change and other global phenomena.

It is something I am seized with, as is the Government of Canada. I think our vision has to be that Canada will be the safest and freest country in the world, where people can live out their lives in digital and virtual space. That obviously has an interplay with artificial intelligence.

There is an important role and a conversation in the way in which the government is going to work with innovators in that space. There are important legal questions. There are ethical questions. There are practical questions about the impacts of artificial intelligence on jobs and the economy. We all have to be united in making sure that Canada is at the leading edge of that debate because we have the most talented workforce in the world. We can and will play a formative role in those discussions.

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