Study reveals Canadians aren’t aware of potential AI downsides

A study by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) shows that Canadians are diving into new AI tools with excitement but are missing out on understanding the potential downsides. Alongside these findings, CIFAR has introduced a free online course, “Destination AI,” to improve public knowledge about these tools.

Elissa Strome, head of pan-Canadian AI strategy at CIFAR, warns that AI is increasingly impacting daily life decisions, like healthcare and job hunting. She emphasized the need for basic AI awareness among all Canadians.

This study, titled Incautiously Optimistic, was based on analyzing 6.9 million social media posts and years of online searches about AI, and uncovered an overwhelmingly positive view of AI. Canadians of all ages, especially in Québec, are engaged. However, users appear more interested in the fun side of AI, often overlooking concerns like fairness and bias.

To address this gap, CIFAR’s “Destination AI” course focuses on defining AI terms, debunking AI myths, understanding the broadening use of AI, and thinking about the ethical issues that are tied to AI.

Strome underlined the role of Canadian research in global AI development and urges an informed public to demand responsible AI use. 

“Many of today’s global AI tools have come about because of Canadian-led research, and we continue to play a leading role in the advancement of responsible AI,” noted Strome. “Continuing along this path, Canadians can and should demand that companies and institutions deploy these technologies responsibly and safely, with rules enforced by our governments and regulatory bodies. To do this, we need an informed public, and this course is a step towards that.”

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Breanna Schnurr
Breanna Schnurr
Breanna Schnurr is a recent journalism graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University. She loves writing about all things data, travel, tech, lifestyle and subculture. You can reach out to Breanna via [email protected].

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