May 15 2024 |

Local Spotlight: Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute and Legal Developments in Artificial Intelligence

The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (“Amii”) is a long-standing cornerstone of the innovation community in the City of Edmonton. Amii was established as a joint effort between the Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta under the title of the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning. Amii has grown exponentially and is one of Canada’s three centres of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) excellence as established in 2017 as part of the Pan-Canadian AI strategy. As an Alberta-based research institute, Amii supports world-leading research in fundamental AI and machine learning and bridges scientific advancement into industry adoption.

In speaking with Adam Danyleyko, Project Owner – Startups at Amii, he provided information to help understand what Amii does, how Amii can aid in equipping businesses of all sizes for the technological advancement that AI brings, and the application of AI in law, both from a practical and regulatory standpoint.

When asked about the role of Amii in the City of Edmonton, Mr. Danyleyko stated that Amii works with companies across Canada and internationally to implement AI into their businesses. He further stated the strength of Edmonton and Alberta overall is that both have great technology ecosystems that are constantly growing more mature startups. In particular, Alberta is already home to great software companies like Jobber and Benevity, and Edmonton is home to accelerators such as Startup TNT. He further highlighted the benefits of the Alberta business community, noting the world-class AI talent that exists both in industry and in research, specifically with the University of Alberta, and the affordability of Alberta to not only live in, but to do business.

When asked about the future outlook and applications of AI, Mr. Danyleyko tempered the recent excitement by stating that the evolution of AI is twofold. The first consideration is that, with the release of tools like ChatGPT, AI has become extremely accessible and cost-friendly for most individuals. The second consideration is that, although costs for individuals have been brought down, the impacts of large players in the AI space cannot go unnoticed. To name a few, Mr. Danyleyko mentioned companies like Microsoft and Nvidia as those that have helped develop the AI marketplace, but also that now have a stronghold on its infrastructure, which is similar to that of Apple and the App Store in the early 2000’s. Nonetheless, the rapid scaling of AI infrastructure has allowed smaller players to enter the market and take advantage of these tools to scale their operations and make workflows smoother, even if it is dependent on the network of a few large players.

Mr. Danyleyko also mentioned the legal aspects of AI, including AI-created content and the intellectual property concerns associated with it, in the context of Amii hosting the Upper Bound Conference later this month, which has a theme of AI in Law. The Conference will touch on topics such as Legal Argument Knowledge in the Era of Generative AI, From Ethics to Regulation: Canadian Government Positioning on AI, Opportunities and Perils of the Applications of AI in Law, and Practical Applications of AI in Law.

One of the feature presentations of the Upper Bound Conference, as mentioned above, is: From Ethics to Regulation: Canadian Government Positioning on AI, will dive into Bill C-27: An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act, the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts (“Bill C-27”). Bill C-27 has, as of April 24, 2023, passed second reading in the House of Commons, and looks to modernize privacy and data regulation in Canada. It seeks to do this through the proposed Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act, while also passing the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (“AIDA”).

Though there are currently regulations in certain sectors such as healthcare, AIDA would be the first widescale regulatory framework for AI in Canada and would address the risks that AI poses both in implementation and in development. According to the Government of Canada, AIDA would require the implementation of new governance mechanisms and policies to ensure proper oversight and care is taken when implementing AI into business workflows. Specifically, in the design process businesses would be required to identify and address risks of their AI systems regarding harm and bias. In the development stage, business would be required to assess the use and limitations of their AI systems and be able to effectively communicate these risks to their users and consumers. In the deployment stage, businesses would need appropriate risk mitigation and monitoring systems to ensure the safety and fairness of their AI systems when in use. Bill C-27 is currently in consideration in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology. In addition to discussing the intricacies of Bill C-27, this presentation will address other initiatives and developments around AI regulation and implementation in Canada, such as government consultations on AI’s role in copyright and competition among others.

In summary, Mr. Danyleyko stated that Amii will continue to fund fundamental research that harnesses the potential of AI for the greater good with a dedicated team of scientists advancing AI research at the University of Alberta. This dedication to research allows Amii to be a cornerstone in the movement to take research in AI and apply the findings to commercial and industry adoption. Amii is a pillar of AI research and innovation in Canada and will continue to be at the forefront of the dynamically changing technology ecosystem. From a legal perspective, AI’s regulation and implementation will need to be closely monitored to ensure the safe and effective use of AI; we will be closely monitoring the development of Bill C-27 and legislation surrounding AI moving forward.

Author: Justin T. Lentz, Student-at-Law