Feds Quietly Begin Consultation on AI Tech Like ChatGPT

The Liberal government has started work on a voluntary code of conduct for generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, such as ChatGPT, though the move was inadvertently revealed ahead of schedule.

A representative for Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne confirmed the consultation process after an accidental post appeared on the government’s “Consulting with Canadians” website, which was later taken down, reports The National Post.

Audrey Champoux, spokesperson for the minister, detailed that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada is currently in talks with AI experts from various sectors, including academia, industry, and civil society, to draft a voluntary practice code for Canadian AI enterprises.

The premature online posting happened as the government began sending out invites for roundtable discussions on the topic. Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, noticed the unintended post and shared it on X on Friday.

“What if the government launched a consultation on developing a Canadian code of practice for generative AI and didn’t tell anyone or post the consultation document? Apparently consultation launched last week but there is no link to an actual document,” said Geist.

This move surprised many, including Conservative Member of Parliament Michelle Rempel, the Parliamentary Caucus on Emerging Technology founder. The caucus, inclusive of members from all political factions, aims to educate its members about AI technologies during the summer.

Rempel voiced her concerns on the matter, stating that the government should be more transparent about the consultation’s purpose and content. She further highlighted the significance of a non-partisan approach to avoid polarizing the issue.

The revelation of the consultation comes at a time when global AI experts are urging for regulations, especially after the introduction of ChatGPT in November. When the Parliament reconvenes in September, a well-informed group of parliamentarians is expected to tackle AI regulations effectively.

As the House of Commons industry committee prepares to review Bill C-27, which proposes new obligations for significant AI systems under the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA), Rempel pointed out that the bill predates generative AI systems like ChatGPT. She hopes the government’s current consultation will be more than just a symbolic gesture.

“The government should be making their intentions clear alongside the consultation and should publicize it more,” said Rempel.

On Monday, Geist revealed he was now invited to the consultation, but questioned why the Canadian public was again left out. “I’ve now been invited to participate in this consultation, but after the widespread criticism over the lack of consultation on the AI provisions in C-27, I don’t understand conducting another Al-related consult that largely excludes the public,” he said.

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