Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Work in Canada: Implications for Policy

Dececmber 6, 2018

Worries about changes brought on by advancing technologies have been part of our culture at least since Frankenstein was published in 1818. Two hundred years on, the worries have a renewed urgency, as the effects seem much more tangible and imminent. Today we face the challenges of advances like driverless cars, 3D-printed surgical implants, advanced manufacturing robots, and the use of artificial intelligence in domains like medical diagnostics, investing, and legal services.

What will such technologies mean for the lives of ordinary Canadians? What will happen to our jobs, our assets, and our collective ability to prepare for and cope with a society undergoing such significant change? How should we prepare – as individuals, as businesses, and as citizens? And what should public policy makers be focussed on to help position the country for the future that’s coming into view?

In December, 2017, Max Bell Foundation hosted a discussion entitled Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Work in Canada: Implications for Policy. Elyse Allen, President and CEO of GE Canada and VP of GE, and Paul Boothe, Managing Director of Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing and former federal and provincial deputy minister, discussed the ways in which Canadians can expect the face of work to change over the coming years.

Elyse Allan is President and Chief Executive Officer of GE Canada and Vice President GE. She actively engages in developing and shaping public policy through industry groups, research and advocacy organizations. Elyse serves on the Board of Directors for the C.D. Howe Institute and the Conference Board of Canada. As well, she recently completed her Board term at the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, where she also served as Chair. Elyse has participated on a number of federal and provincial government advisory boards focused on Canada’s competitiveness, energy strategy, economic development, transportation strategy and access to credit. She has been recognized as a Top 100 Women of Influence by the Women’s Executive Network, is a YWCA 2012 Woman of Distinction (Business), and by Maclean’s and Canadian Business Magazines as one of Canada’s most influential business leaders. In 2014, Elyse was appointed Member of the Order of Canada.

Paul Boothe is the Managing Director for the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing. In December 2016, he was appointed to the Order of Canada. Paul retired as Professor and Director of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management at the Ivey Business School, Western University. His work experience has included university research and teaching, acting as an independent consultant to Canadian and international organizations, and serving as a senior public servant in provincial and federal governments. At the provincial level, he served as Saskatchewan’s Deputy Minister of Finance and Secretary to Treasury Board. At the federal level, his appointments include Associate Deputy Minister of Finance and G7 Deputy, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Industry and, most recently, Deputy Minister of the Environment. He retired from the federal public service in July 2012. He currently serves as a Director of Max Bell Foundation.

Elyse on additive printing and its implications for manufacturing.

 

Paul on jobs vs. skills.

 

Elyse on automating dangerous and unpleasant jobs with robotics while maintaining a workforce.

 

Paul on the need for employers and government to invest in people, as well as machines and innovation.

 

Elyse on the importance of investing in innovation.

 

Paul on how universities and colleges should adapt to a changing labour market.