Canada is the first country in the world to form a national AI strategy

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Governance is all about responsiveness, always.

Those governments who respond and are not run by autocrats, deliver good and governance. For those who react, even with the good intentions inclined, lose the initiative. And hence, the learning and opportunity to iterate and refine. What happens is frantic “me too” race then. Those who try to catch up, have never win the race.

In March 2017, Canada was the first country in the world to promulgate a national strategy dedicated for artificial intelligence. It is their guiding policy document. Canada also planned an investment of CAN$125 million over a period of next five years on pursuing and developing artificial intelligence. All for the betterment of Canada and it’s citizens.

The initiative by the federal government sparked the initiative among the provincial governments. They also decided to put in large amount of investment in AI. The provincial governments of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta established AI institutes. And they have committed funding of CAN$50-80 million to each of them.

Catalysed by this parallel twin initiatives, private sector also pitched in and has contributed a total amount of more than CAN$100 million to these same institutes.

The result is impressive.

Canada has seen an explosion in the number of AI-based start-ups. In innovation hubs such as Montreal, Toronto, Waterloo, Edmonton and Vancouver there were more than 650 AI-based startup.

So far, the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy has focused on advancing academic research and innovation. At the same time, the Canadian government has developed a series of initiatives to engage the private sector and advance the innovation agenda. One example is the Innovation Super-clusters Initiative, a CAN$950 million investment in regional industrial super-clusters. A total of five super-clusters were named in 2018.

The federal government is also getting ready to announce a new AI Advisory Council, a multi-stakeholder group responsible for bringing the academic and private sectors together to offer advice and guidance on Canada’s approach to AI innovation and commercialization.

The Canadian government’s response to the rise of artificial intelligence is an example for many other governments in developed and developing countries. Countries who are privileged now to be called IT super-powers could soon by relegated to “second divison” if they do not follow the example of Canada and respond soon enough.

In the AI world to come, there won’t be any place for “also rans”.


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