It’s almost like the spirit of the earlier tech waves is upon us again only AI-focused: Bruce Croxon
Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development is laying out new guidelines for makers of generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems.
On Wednesday, François-Philippe Champagne announced details of a voluntary code of conduct for the AI industry that aims to mitigate the potential risks posed by the technology.
The code, which the government said was effective immediately, identifies a number of measures that companies are encouraged to apply to their operations when developing and managing AI systems.
The code was developed as a “critical bridge” before specific AI-regulating legislation is passed, according to the minister’s office. The federal Liberals introduced the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) as part of Bill C-27 in June 2022, but it is still being considered by the House of Commons.
“Advances in AI have captured the world’s attention with the immense opportunities they present,” Champagne said in a press release.
“Canada is a global AI leader, among the top countries in the world, and Canadians have created many of the world’s top AI innovations. At the same time, Canada takes the potential risks of AI seriously.”
CORE PRINCIPLES FOR AI
The code, which is not legally binding, focuses on six “core principles” it hopes the major players in the Canadian AI industry will adopt: accountability, safety, fairness and equity, transparency, human oversight and monitoring, and validity and robustness.
Some of the measures laid out in the code include the implementation of a clear risk management framework, frequent testing and assessment of systems for biases, and the publishing of information on AI systems so that AI content can be identified.
“Through our Voluntary Code of Conduct on the Responsible Development and Management of Advanced Generative AI Systems, leading Canadian companies will adopt responsible guardrails for advanced generative AI systems in order to build safety and trust as the technology spreads,” Champagne said.
“We will continue to ensure Canada’s AI policies are fit for purpose in a fast-changing world.”
In a news conference Wednesday in Montreal, Champagne said that a number of Canadian AI developers had already signed the code of conduct, including BlackBerry, OpenText, Cohere and Coveo.
Cohere’s CEO and co-founder Aidan Gomez said in the press release that he is “very pleased” to see the federal government providing strong leadership in the AI space – a sentiment echoed by OpenText’s CEO.
“AI technologies represent immense opportunities for every citizen and business in Canada,” said Mark J. Barrenechea in the release.
“The societal impacts of AI are profound across education, biotech, climate and the very nature of work. Canada’s AI Code of Conduct will help accelerate innovation and citizen adoption by setting the standard on how to do it best.”
Champagne’s office said the code was written based on input received from a “cross-section of stakeholders” and consultation with a government advisory council. It said a summary of the feedback received during the consultation will be published in the coming days.