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AI Regulation Is Coming. What’s Canada’s Approach?

 |  January 9, 2023

By Douglas Soltys, BetaKit Incorporated

Welcome to the first BetaKit Podcast episode of the new year!

When last we podded, we were offering up our 2022 review and 2023 predictions. A topic that came up in both: AI. 

“The very heart of the bill, and the heart of the law, you wouldn’t know what exactly it’s applying to.” – Carole Piovesan

Generative AI seems to be in the news almost daily, with reports that Microsoft is going to incorporate ChatGPT into Bing (along with Word and Email) and Open AI is looking to raise at a $29 billion valuation.

There’s also the fact that school boards are looking to block generative tech in the vain hope that it won’t completely disrupt our modern pedagogy before kids are back in school. As Tony Dagger put it recently, “we’re at a different place technologically than we were a week ago.”

It’s probably a good time to note that AI regulation is also coming in 2023. In some parts of the world, it’s already here.

In Canda? We must look to Bill C-27, which is currently making its way through a second reading.

What is Bill C-27? Well, it’s a bit of a legislative turducken—a billducken if you will—containing multiple acts related to digital privacy and Canada’s digital charter. Tightly wrapped in the warm, gooey centre is also an Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA).

It’s that act that has spawned a variety of constructive criticism from all sides: with some saying it’s too rushed, too harsh, too vague, and hasn’t had enough expert consultation. Some are asking that AIDA gets stripped out of Bill C-27 entirely.

Speaking of experts, today on the podcast we have one Carole Piovesan, co-founder and managing partner at INQ Law. Piovesan has worked with the federal governement on its position statement on artificial intelligence, served as a member of the global partnership on AI, and is an adjunct professor on AI regulation at the University of Toronto. Piovesan might not refer to C-27 as a billducken, but that’s part of the reason we have her on the pod: for her expertise.

Piovesan walks us through the history of the bill, and the criticisms it faces. But she also provides context as to why the federal government has tried to walk a middle path compared to the EU and the US. Whether or not it works remains to be seen.

So, for the first time of 2023, let’s dig in.

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