A report published this week by Deloitte Canada’s AI Institute counters recent pessimism around the nation’s lagging role in the global advancement and adoption of artificial intelligence technologies.
Canada’s cohort of AI talent rose an average of 38% annually in each of the preceding five years, outpacing rivals such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, according to data from “Impact and Opportunities: Canada’s National AI Ecosystem Report 2023″—including 29% in 2022.
Deloitte CEO Anthony Viel cites Canada’s skilled workforce and high immigration rate as factors contributing to the country as a “springboard to advance AI-fuelled enterprises around the globe.”
“Our openness to newcomers, our highly skilled workforce, our banking stability with access to global markets, and our commitment to a standard of living that is second to none has allowed us to translate our ideas and curiosity into tangible solutions that address real-world challenges and opportunities,” the chief executive stated in his company’s report.
As we strive for success, Viel warns we must be mindful of the challenges that exist across the AI ecosystem. But overall he believes Canada is moving “toward an environment that encourages innovation and provides a platform for AI-driven initiatives to thrive.”
“Our collective efforts today will determine our position on the world stage tomorrow,” he stated. “This is how we shape the future of AI . . . to make an impact that maters for our communities, our country, and our planet.”
The report, prepared by researchers at Deloitte Canada in collaboration with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Canada’s three National AI Institutes—Amii in Edmonton, Mila in Montréal, and the Vector Institute in Toronto—also found other promising metrics, such as a 27% boost in the number of AI patents filed nationally last year.
Per capita, Canada was also found to rank third among G7 countries in terms of attracting private investment in AI ventures.
“Since the launch of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy six years ago, Canada has experienced tremendous growth in our AI sector,” said Elissa Strome, Executive Director, Pan-Canadian AI Strategy at CIFAR. “This report confirms that Canada is viewed by the international AI research community as a rich source of new ideas and collaboration, ranking second in the world for AI research paper contributions per capita.”
Strome believes it is “no accident that Canada is well-placed to lead in the development and commercialization of advances such as generative AI.”
Rather, it is the “result of Canada’s long-standing leadership and investments in the advances and skills that make these new opportunities possible.”
The executive anticipates that the “powerful technology will deliver positive social and economic benefits for all.”
But even the optimistic Impact and Opportunities is forced to admit that AI adoption in Canada is fairly low overall in the country. For example, data shows barely one-quarter of organizations have launched one or more AI implementations, compared with 34% globally.
This statistic reflects a broader sentiment of anxiety about AI in Canada based on recent polls and surveys.
Such hesitation could cost firms, however. Companies should adopt AI sooner than later, experts suggest, asserting that the tech is beyond just a buzzword—that the benefits of implementing AI are tangible.
“We know that AI is not a passing trend,” says Cam Linke, chief executive officer of Alberta-based Amii. “It is an ever-evolving force that will reshape industries and—making it essential for individuals and businesses to invest in AI.”
Linke’s aim through Amii is to “lead with ambition to increase broad-based AI literacy, advance fundamental AI research that tackles the most pressing and complex challenges facing the world today, and empower industry with responsible and ethical AI tools in order to stay ahead of and harness its transformative power.”
“The barriers to getting started in applied AI have never been lower,” offers Linke, emphasizing that “now is the time to act.”
“It is no longer a choice of whether to be involved in AI or not,” he believes. “It’s whether to lead or be led.”