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Trudeau stresses digital tech's potential — and dangers — at global AI summit

Last Updated Dec 4, 2020 at 12:17 pm EDT

In this image made from UNTV video, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the U.N. General Assembly's special session to discuss the response to COVID-19 and the best path to recovery from the pandemic, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, at UN headquarters in New York. (UNTV via AP)

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off the inaugural meeting of a global council on artificial intelligence by warning of the danger of unbridled digital technology, despite its potential to change the world for the better.

The virtual summit marks the latest step in the slow march toward international co-operation on digital governance amid growing concerns over data privacy, built-in bias and deployment in war.

Canada first set out on that path two years ago, unveiling plans with France for a standing AI forum during a meeting of G7 countries in Quebec.

Since then, 13 other states have signed on to the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to guide policy development with an eye to human rights, establishing expert panels and involving government, industry and academia.

Speaking ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, Trudeau said AI has the potential to combat diseases and climate change, but also to “create new challenges if left unchecked.”

Last month, the Liberal government tabled legislation to give Canadians more control over their information in the digital age, with potentially stiff fines for companies that flout the rules.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press