Summary contributed by Allison Cohen, a consultant at AI Global. Previously an AI Strategy Consultant at Deloitte.
*Authors of original paper & link at the bottom
Following the 2008 financial crisis, the pursuit of economic growth and prosperity led many companies to pivot from labor intensive to capital intensive business models with the espousal of AI technology. The capitalist’s case for AI centered on potential gains in labor productivity and labor supply. The demand for AI grew with increased affordability of sensors, accessibility of big data and a growth of computational power. Although the technology has already augmented various industries, it has also adversely impacted the workforce. Not to mention, the data, which powers AI, can be collected and used in ways that put fundamental civil liberties at risk. Due to Canada’s global reputation and extensive AI talent, the ICTC recommends Canada take a leadership role in the ethical deployment of this technology.
It is anticipated that by 2023, over 305,000 people will be working in the Canadian digital economy. However, it is also expected that many jobs that exist today will become obsolete at the hands of AI technology. The ICTC developed an AI Labor Augmentation Model to showcase those occupations that are most at risk of AI replacement. The Model found that jobs such as bookkeepers, payroll administrators and administrative assistants, which entail routine administrative tasks, are most at risk. According to the ICTC, 70% of people with occupations that are most likely to be replaced by AI are held by women. The Model also found that jobs such as psychologists, dentists and legislators, which require complex problem solving, judgment calls and qualitative analysis will remain the exclusive domain of humans.
In addition to concerns of labor replacement, the technology is also at risk of perpetuating bias and discrimination. This is because an algorithm is only as fair and just as the data from which it learns. For example, data on bond risk scores in the judicial system led AI software, trained on biased data, to be twice as likely to falsely label black defendants as future criminals rather than white defendants.
This risk becomes acutely problematic when the technology is not explainable or transparent and thereby, unaccountable.Canada is uniquely positioned for leadership in this field as it is one of the first countries with a national AI strategy, Canada ranks 3rd in the world for AI research, and has the largest proportion of AI ethics committees in the world. Canada also houses leading AI organizations in cities including Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton. As such, Canada should step into its role as a global leader on AI, since leadership over the technology’s social implications is critical for AI to have a net positive impact.
Original paper by McLaughlin, Ryan and Quan, Trevor: https://www.ictc-ctic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/canadas-ai-workforce-FINAL-ENG-2.24.20.pdf