Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming one of the most impactful technologies in the world today, changing the way people work, interact with each other and participate in the economy. Realizing the full potential of AI that benefits all citizens requires international collaboration and coordination.
On December 3 and 4, leading international AI experts from industry, civil society, academia and government, including ministerial-level participants from nine countries, came together virtually for the first plenary of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), during which they discussed how to guide their collective efforts to advance the responsible development and use of this technology.
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, spoke at the event’s opening ceremonies and underscored how GPAI represents a model of partnership that will foster responsible AI innovation and economic growth, grounded in the shared values of human rights, inclusion and diversity.
He then joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, who co-led the effort to establish GPAI through their 2018 and 2019 G7 presidencies. The leaders shared their vision for GPAI to guide the responsible development and use of AI globally.
GPAI is an initiative that leverages international collaboration on key research and applied projects focused on ensuring AI is human-centred by design and fostering public trust in its use. GPAI’s founding members include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union. On the margins of the plenary, the founding members welcomed Brazil, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain as new members of the Partnership.
The plenary took place as part of the GPAI – Montréal Summit 2020, organized by the International Centre of Expertise in Montréal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. This is GPAI’s first major event since its launch in June 2020, and it marks the beginning of Canada’s role as the 2020-2021 Chair of the GPAI Council, which provides strategic direction to the Partnership.
Throughout the plenary, over 200 leading AI experts tackled core issues across several themes: the responsible adoption of AI, the use of AI in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, data governance, the future of work, and innovation and commercialization. The event gave the world’s AI leaders a unique opportunity for exchange on the most promising ways to put AI into action and spark new projects on its impactful application.
As the event comes to a close, Canada looks forward to leading the Partnership in 2020-2021, during which it will leverage the principles of Canada’s Digital Charter to promote a vision for a global AI ecosystem that enables responsible and trustworthy innovation, while fostering diversity and inclusion across the AI domain.
“AI is the single largest transformative technology in the world today. I’m proud to see that what began as a bilateral project between Canada and France is becoming a truly multilateral and multistakeholder initiative. Realizing the full potential of AI by creating benefits for all citizens requires international collaboration and coordination. GPAI will help shape a global AI ecosystem where innovation and growth are founded on trust and harnessed by our shared values of human rights, inclusion and diversity.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Canada and France, along with international partners, have worked together since June 2018, including through Canada and France’s G7 presidencies, to develop and launch GPAI.
GPAI will support the development and use of AI based on human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth, while seeking to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Canada has a thriving AI ecosystem composed of more than 850 start-up companies, 20 public research labs, 75 incubators and accelerators, and 60 groups of investors from across the country, grouped in major hubs such as Montréal, Toronto, Waterloo, Edmonton and Vancouver.
First announced in September 2019, the International Centre of Expertise in Montréal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (ICEMAI) is receiving up to $10 million over five years from the Government of Canada to support its and GPAI’s activities. This is in addition to a $5-million grant previously announced by the Government of Quebec to create or attract an international AI organization.
ICEMAI also benefits from significant investments in AI in Canada and Quebec. In addition to receiving more than $900 million in foreign direct investment since 2017, the Montréal AI ecosystem has benefited from nearly $1 billion in public funds, both from federal and Quebec initiatives. Of this funding, $40 million came from the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy and $230 million came from the Innovation Superclusters Initiative that gave rise to the Montréal Scale AI supercluster, which is focused on supply chains and SMEs. Over the next 10 years, these investments are expected to contribute $16.5 billion to Canada’s GDP and help create over 16,000 jobs.
On June 15, 2020, Minister Bains and Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Nadine Girault, made public a Canada-Quebec memorandum of understanding on GPAI that allows Quebec to participate in GPAI-related activities. The governments of Canada and Quebec will continue to involve and closely collaborate with other provincial and territorial governments to ensure Canada’s work draws from the strong expertise in AI found from coast to coast.