Given the power of what this technology embodies, it is alarming to hear that the growth of AI in Canada has virtually been dormant since 2014. According to a report from Deloitte’s Omnia AI practice – Canada’s AI imperative: From predictions to prosperity – only 16 per cent of all businesses in Canada are using AI. That percentage remains unchanged for the past four years.
“AI can and will transform decision-making, drive efficiencies, improve customer experiences, and power sustained, profitable growth, but Canada is getting left behind,” said Shelby Austin, Managing Partner of Omnia AI.
According to Austin, Canadian businesses need to step up and start adopting AI in a more meaningful way. She went on to explain that this will then create a demand for technologies that are already unlocking potential for other countries.
To start the growth process, there must be a demand from leaders for AI with the necessary investments, both of which are lacking currently, according to the report. The report also found that if Canada continues on its current path, then we risk driving Canadian talent, research, and startups to more fertile grounds which will fuel the growth of AI in countries like the US and China with Canada losing out.
To help get the conversation going and the action steps to be taken, Deloitte is trying to show why Canada is failing to lead when it comes to AI.
According to the report:
- Only four per cent of Canadians surveyed feel confident enough to explain what AI is and how it works.
- Eighty-six per cent of Canadians said they don’t use AI-powered tools or devices; given that 76 per cent of Canadians use a smartphone that has virtual assistant programs and mapping software, there is a disconnect between what Canadians know about AI and the reality of AI technology adoption.
- Only eight per cent of Canadian companies surveyed plan to increase their spending by more than 20 per cent in the upcoming year – 40 per cent fewer than the global average.
“Clearly, the lack of knowledge and distrust of AI has negatively affected adoption,” said Austin.
But she pointed out that Canada has a lot to be proud of when it comes AI talent and research. There are institutions like the Vector Institute, the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) which are making great strides in AI. Also, regional technology hubs are attracting top talent, but she said we need to collectively look to the path ahead and develop an AI prosperity strategy that ensures Canada continues to remain the best place to live and work.
To get there, “Canada first needs to foster a top-tier AI ecosystem at home, demonstrate true leadership to create demand, and develop strong public policies that provide the protections citizens expect and deserve.”
Having a clear AI prosperity strategy, “Canada can strengthen our competitiveness at home and on the world stage.”
To view the full report, go here.
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