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Digital Policy Salon: Our Complex Relationship with Artifical Intelligence

Welcome to the 23rd issue of the Digital Policy Salon weekly briefing. Today we're excited to share w
Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Our Complex Relationship with Artifical Intelligence
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #23 • View online
Welcome to the 23rd issue of the Digital Policy Salon weekly briefing.
Today we’re excited to share with you that ICTC’s research and policy development team has now been branded Digital Think Tank by ICTC. ICTC’s research and policy mandate has been strengthened significantly over the years and this new brand emphasizes our continued commitment to leading critical research and important policy considerations for the digital economy while also highlighting our growing areas of expertise.
Closing in on the tail end of summer, our thoughts are turning to autumn, cold weather, and the impact of COVID-19 on our lives and the economy during the upcoming school year. This week’s issue brings continued updates on recovery, CERB and EI changes, and pandemic-related research, along with ICTC’s own submission in advance of the upcoming federal budget.
In addition to policy news, our featured work is highlighting opportunities and challenges in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). An interview piece with senior researchers at ICTC debates the impact of AI on the labour market as well as the relationship between automation and recessions, while our research examines foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Canadian AI market, regional centers of expertise, and the applicability of PIPEDA to contemporary issues in AI development.
Thank you for joining us in this week’s issue!
- Faun, Khiran, and Tyler

COVID-19 and Tech Policy Updates 🇨🇦
The transition to life after lockdown continues, but it’s a bumpy road for both education and the economy
Health and education officials are advocating for new saliva-based testing methods to become available in Canada for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. Saliva-based tests, which have not yet been approved in Canada, may ease challenges associated with conducting COVID-19 tests among young children.
Amid back-to-school health concerns, some parents have decided to form “learning pods”—small groups of children that are home schooled in groups. For parents, the pods will help balance health concerns with fundamental childhood needs like education and social development. For some advocacy groups, they raise concerns about education equality.
Retail sales increased by 23.7% in June, led by motor vehicle and parts dealers, as well as clothing and clothing accessories stores. Retail sales are now higher than what they were in January before the pandemic hit, and higher than they were in June of last year.
The Government of Canada has released its plan to transition from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to traditional Employment Insurance. More details on the changes, which will come into effect on September 27th, can be found here.
A new report by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business discusses the impact of automation on the Indigenous economy in Canada and finds that “33.8% of Indigenous workers across Canada are currently concentrated in industries with a higher risk of automation.” There has been wide speculation that COVID-19 will increase the speed of digital trends associated with automation.
Using digital technology to facilitate the work-from-home economy also makes us more dependent on it
On Monday, Zoom registered 17,000 complaints in 5 hours by users who were unable to log in to attend business meetings and school classes. Home to more than 300 million users a day, Zoom has become an integral part of business continuity measures and distance learning plans—and Monday was a firm reminder of how reliant we are on it and other tech.
Last week, internet provider Xplornet announced it was discontinuing service in Haida Gwaii, BC, leaving a small community with no internet access as of December 31st. Local teachers who deliver classes virtually are unsure how they’ll continue teaching students. - Mairead Matthews | email
Our Perspective
Towards a Resilient Digital-Led Economic Recovery: Written Submission for the Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the Upcoming Federal Budget
Betting on Red and White | Overview
Interviews in the Field
Complex Relations: AI and the Future of Canada’s Workforce
Ryan McLaughlin, Senior Economist & Research Analyst at the Digital Think Tank by ICTC
Ryan McLaughlin, Senior Economist & Research Analyst at the Digital Think Tank by ICTC
Trevor Quan, Senior Research Analyst at the Digital Think Tank by ICTC
Trevor Quan, Senior Research Analyst at the Digital Think Tank by ICTC
What We're Reading
Hate Social Media but Love Nature? There's an App for That
Disinformation surging online during pandemic, says Microsoft president
Average self-reported weight gain (kg) across the UK during lockdown, as reported by 1.6 million COVID Symptom Study app users. Source: "The silent pandemic: How lockdown is affecting future health," COVID Symptom Study, July 29, 2020.
Average self-reported weight gain (kg) across the UK during lockdown, as reported by 1.6 million COVID Symptom Study app users. Source: "The silent pandemic: How lockdown is affecting future health," COVID Symptom Study, July 29, 2020.
Research Visualized
The COVID-19 Symptom Study is a collaboration between King’s College London and health science company ZOE: over 4 million users in the UK have downloaded the app and added their diagnoses, symptoms, demographics, and other information, contributing to ongoing research about the pandemic. Periodic press releases from this work describe new correlations and hypotheses stemming from the app’s data, including links between estrogen and COVID-19 resilience and self-reported weight gain and eating habits by region, pictured above.
Our Research
Harnessing the Benefits of AI While Reducing the Harms
Twitter Highlights
NRC Canada
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@BMWi_Bund @ZIM_BMWi @AiF_ProjektGmbH https://t.co/XlGmcPLv6O
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