Canadian Government unveils Montreal Declaration of Responsible AI

Following a year of deliberations with 100 tech experts, professionals and ethicists, the Université de Montréal has released a guide to how companies should ethically build and utilize AI technology


This week the Université de Montréal released the Montreal Declaration of Responsible AI, a document aimed at helping guide individuals, organizations, companies and governments make responsible and ethical choices when building and utilizing AI technology. The declaration was agreed upon by 100 different experts comprised of tech professionals and ethicists.

The declaration has three stated core objectives:

  • Develop an ethical framework for the development and rollout of AI.
  • Guide the digital transition so everyone benefits from this technological revolution.
  • Open a national and international forum for discussion to collectively achieve equitable, inclusive and ecologically sustainable AI development.

AI technology has faced a number of ethical dilemmas and controversies over the last few years. Some researchers have pushed the boundaries of AI ethics in order to show the impact biased datasets can have on AI development such as the MIT researchers who created the world's first psychopath AI, Norman in June 2018.

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Other bodies such as the Chinese Government has already begun utilizing AI technology in ethically questionable ways. The "social credit system" the Chinese government is officially launching in 2020 will see it use AI and other next-gen technologies to keep a life-long record of the acts of every Chinese citizen. This will be made up of a myriad of deeds the governments have deemed "dishonorable" and will have a host of consequences associated to each.

Microsoft software engineer and founder of the Montreal AI Ethics Institute, Abhishek Gupta, commented following the release of the declaration: "Companies are deploying these systems today. We're using them in practice with real people. It's not something in the far future that we can keep sitting and thinking about."

Canada is one of a number of countries trying to vie for the position of global AI dominance. The US is currently the world leader in AI tech startups, but China is hot on its heels, with heavy investments in hubs such as Zhongguancun, "China's Silicon Valley". Even the German government recently announced a $3bn investment in AI in an effort to keep up with world AI leaders.

However, with this most recent move by Canada, it seems the nation is also trying to position itself as the moral center for AI in the coming future.

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