The digital development of AI, which is essentially machines assisting decisions and performing tasks that normally require human intelligence is used across various industries from technology to the public sector. These technologies help improve our lives by supporting our decision-making and driving greater efficiencies by reducing time spend on day-to-day processes so we can optimize our time and efforts.

The same benefits can be brought to companies to create a talent advantage, drive efficiencies to create value and reduce waste in competitive industries. Intelligent automation and artificial intelligence can help organizations maximize their investment in talent by automating manual processes that sift through piles of data with machine intelligence. This allows organizations to focus on bigger opportunities and challenges – generating value and saving time and money.

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Canada was the first country in the world to develop and implement a national AI strategy. About 18 months ago, Canada led the globe by announcing the first national strategy. The five-year PanCanadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy unified Canada’s three major institutes – Vector Institute in Toronto, Amii in Edmonton and Mila in Montreal – with a national vision. Working together, the institutes would recruit and develop a critical mass of top AI researchers and practitioners that would, hopefully, become a magnet for investment and other top talent from around the world.

Although this strategy has worked in one way or another – the global race for AI development is on and Canada is not the front runner. According to an Accenture 10-country survey of 3015 business leaders, including 44 Canadian Executives – Canada is only narrowly ahead of Brazil and behind the rest of the surveyed countries, including the United States, China and the United Kingdom.

In a study conducted by Forbes Insights, Canada ranked last out of 10 countries, with only 31% of adopters of the technology claiming successful deployment, compared with 59% in Indian and 58% in Germany. Canadian companies also came ranked last for full deployment throughout their firm and encountered the most resistance from employees due to concerns about job security.

Trying to catch up

In a country, with a built-in AI strategy, citizens lack the trust in AI and has a lack of understanding what it is. Deloitte found that 86% of Canadians said they don’t ever use AI-powered tools despite the fact that 76% of them use a smartphone with AI-enabled virtual assistant programs and mapping software.

As a society, Canada must address real concerns about AI and the creations of undetectable fake news, the misuse of personal data or facial recognition software, decision-making tools that reinforce societal biases and cyberwarfare. If Canada doesn’t assume leadership role then other countries will take advantage of lack of competitiveness and job losses in Canada will even higher.

However, Canada’s early interest in deep learning allowed universities to attract the best and brightest researchers and students, and build thriving AI ecosystems across the country. One of the most important things for Canada to do to get aside is to work alongside other countries who are far along in intelligent automation and artificial intelligence.

Government commitment to AI has definitely helped Canada keep at the development of AI and will only continue to do so. In addition to providing financial support, Canada’s federal government recently introduced changes to the immigration policy that will make it easier for companies to bring in technical talent from other countries. A fast-track visa program that offers up permanent residency was introduced in June 2017 with the goal of attracting innovators from across the globe.

Canadian businesses do have practical barriers to overcome. Intelligent automation has the potential to transform productivity across all Canadian sectors but the gains will only be recognized if all the necessary complements are in place. Leadership, talent, and startups could be the answers to catching up to the rest of the world.

See the full report here.


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