Canada cannot deliver on its international obligations under the Paris Agreement without meaningfully engaging its small business sector. Small businesses are more than simple profit-maximizers: they are social and political actors. Policies and incentives to foster sustainability should be carefully tailored to respond to the variety of drivers at each size of firm, rather than employing the same approach across the spectrum. Government can accelerate small business sustainability innovation by providing information, cases and success stories; technical skills and expertise; financial support and incentives; and legitimation.
Now is the time to fish or cut bait when it comes to Canada’s nascent artificial intelligence (AI) sector. Like other startups, AI firms are facing several challenges including access to capital and qualified staff, regulatory hurdles and antiquated procurement rules. But to succeed, AI companies must also find suitable data; the raw material they need to design algorithms.
Last year, under pressure from its own employees, Google announced that it would not renew a contract with the US Department of Defense on Project Maven – a project to use machine learning to improve surveillance and target identification by military drones. Google employees felt that the initiative was “in direct opposition to our core values” and that the company “should not be in the business of war.” Google executives eventually agreed not to renew the contract. Yet, while Google appears to have ended its direct participation, Project Maven itself is ongoing; other artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and firms are stepping in to do the work. What was deemed an unethical use of AI by Google employees appears not to present ethical red flags for others.
On January 11, 2019, Canada’s Department of Finance published a consultation document titled A Review into the Merits of Open Banking. While the consultation document invites stakeholders to provide feedback, the rather tight deadline (February 11) belies the complexity of the technological and policy challenges raised by open banking.
The world is awash in data, yet policymakers are just beginning to develop a system of rules to govern that data. Many Asian nations are transitioning to a data-driven economy built on large, often multinational data sets from individuals, machines, satellites, firms, and governments. Much of this data is personal data, and some of it is in the public domain or obtained by government agencies. However, few nations have organised a public discussion about the use and governance of public and personal data, especially as it flows across borders.
In November 2018, the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to investigate the legality of US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The United States’ move to raise national security concerns as a justification for the tariffs will be at the centre of the examination.
Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a bold claim about artificial intelligence (AI), calling it “one of the most important things that humanity is working on. It’s more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire.”
As the scandals plaguing internet companies mount, policy makers could be more inclined to take stronger action
This year, citizens reclaimed agency and put pressure on governments and technology giants alike