Why the rush ?
Following an emergency meeting of the Canadian AI Advisory Council held by Minister Champagne on Friday morning, and in less than 48 hours, 75 co-signatories gathered to ask our elected officials to support Bill C-27, which includes a world-first legal framework to regulate AI. The bill is being held up by technical procedures, and may be delayed until the end of the year, or even 2024, if it is not passed before the summer recess. Bill C-27 will be debated again in Parliament on Thursday, April 20th 2023, which explains the tight timeline and the need for action.
You can read more about the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) in this companion piece, and the strategic vision for citizen engagement and dialogue in this document (see Recommendation no. 5 on the Arts in AI engagement. I sincerely fear that if we don’t mobilize now, it may be years before Canada legislates on AI, and we will have missed a crucial opportunity. The letter was published and referred to in a number of major newspapers and links to the known ones are copied below.
As an artist, as a human rights advocate and lawyer, as a member of the Advisory council on AI of Canada, and a United Nations expert on AI policy and governance, as the co-chair and initiator of Gender Equality and the Environment in Digital Economies International WorkGroup, I believe adopting Bill C-27 is the right thing to do.
Those who know me, know that I have been critical of industry-led narratives in AI, and of the not-so-democratic policy innovation mechanisms. You also probably know that I believe AI can be a tool for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (Peace, Gender Equality, Decent Work, Climate Action). For that, we must make pro-active choices to ensure we can achieve this potential. Proper “consultations” must be held, or, to be clear, substantial investments into ensuring the engagement of a large number of informed citizens and civil society organizations, with diverse perspectives in the policy innovation process that leads to the shaping of AI laws. No more box ticking.
Note that art is now included in the recommendations supported by the government of Canada as a method of engagement and policy innovation (link provided above). This is a clear win for different ways of engaging with our government, of being heard, and shaping the laws that determine the impact of new technologies such as AI.
If you agree, please tell your MP to support bill C-27. AI is political, not in a bad way, it just means, it’s time for the people we voted for, to take a stand for us.
Cliquez ici pour lire ce même (ou presque) article en français.
Click here to read the Letter in support of AIDA (1)
Further reading on what’s next, after we adopt Bill C-27 (AIDA): Policy Brief – Gender Equality, Environment in Digital Economies, V.Goddard et al
In the media today:
Globe and Mail : Canadian AI experts issue letter in support of draft law aimed at curbing technology’s risks
Founder, Executive Director
AI Impact Alliance