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Oscar Williams

News editor

Justin Trudeau says Canada will create “friendlier” AI singularity than China

Justin Trudeau has warned that countries which fail to put in place measures to protect citizens’ data risk creating harmful artificial intelligence.

Speaking at the GovTech Summit in Paris on Monday, the Canadian prime minister said China’s AI researchers have an advantage in being able to access huge volumes of healthcare data, but that this could ultimately be detrimental to the country’s citizens.

“I truly believe that over the medium term, having a better framework in place will allow us to actually create greater benefits for our citizens, better quality of life and better outcomes for the AI algorithms,” he told the audience of politicians, civil servants and startup founders. “The singularity we create will be friendlier than the singularity they create.”

The singularity encompasses the idea that the creation of artificial super intelligence will lead to the dramatic transformation of technology and society.

Trudeau also called on governments to come together and establish a framework for the ethical development of artificial intelligence. “There is a need to set up a framework for AI for good, AI that is ethical and responsible,” he said. “There’s an important conversation to be had and Canada, with our chartered rights of freedoms and to our approach to diversity, is in a position to partner with countries around the world to really lead this reflection on how do we make sure these new technologies will be more beneficial than they are detrimental?”

The question of China’s approach to technology, data and privacy was a popular topic of discussion throughout the GovTech Summit.

Speaking on a panel about technology and democracy, Armin Laschet – a German politician – expressed concerns about the way big data is being used in China. “Artificial intelligence is being used to control people [through the social credit score]. It affects your ability to travel to a foreign country.”

Marietje Schaake, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, reiterated Trudeau’s to lay the groundwork for ethical artificial intelligence. “In Europe, we haven’t really comprehended the fundamental challenge that China and its top down governing of technology is coming our way. We need to understand what’s at stake and start designing for the outcomes we want.”