AI on the Horizon: May 10, 2024 Update

AI Highlights in Canada’s Budget 2024

By now many of you have probably seen the Budget 2024 announcements. While the capital gains announcement dominated the news (and my LinkedIn feed), there are several AI announcements to highlight including $2  billion over five years for AI computational power and $200 million over 5 years to boost AI startups. Importantly, the Budget is also providing $50 million for workers at-risk of disruption by AI and another $50 million to create an AI Safety Institute. Given the potential for worker displacement and the need for AI safety research, these are very welcomed announcements. Alain Francq, Director of Innovation and Technology here at The Conference Board of Canada, recently spoke on our podcast about what Budget 2024 means for overall innovation in Canada.

The Rise of the Chief AI Officer

The C-suite is adding a new position with many companies and organizations looking to hire their first Chief AI Officer (CAIO). In Fall 2023, Western University appointed Mark Daley as the first ever CAIO of a Canadian university and UHN became the first Canadian hospital to appoint a CAIO, Dr. Bo Wang. In late March, the Biden Administration announced they are requiring every federal agency to designate a Chief AI Officer. The CAIO is an early example of AI-based job creation. Unlike Prompt Engineers, expect the number of organizations with this position to continue to grow rapidly.

Godly AI? Not So Fast

Business and governments are not the only players adopting AI; religious organizations are getting in on the action as well. Evangelical leaders released “AI principles” in 2019, the Vatican released the “Rome Call for AI Ethics” in 2020,  and the LDS Church recently released their “Guiding Principles.” Today, there also many faith-based AI chatbots available for followers of any religion. However, one of these AI chatbots, Father Justin by Catholic Answers, was quickly “defrocked” in late April after users relayed some theologically questionable interactions, such as providing confession. The chatbot is now available as simply Justin, a lay theologian. This goes down as another warning of prematurely releasing AI products to the public.

How is GenAI Actually Being Used?

I’m often asked for examples or case studies of ways that organizations are using AI. Luckily, a new academic journal is being released to provide exactly this answer: “The Journal of Business & Artificial Intelligence.” The first edition should be out shortly, and Patrick Tammer, Director at Scale AI, and member of our Canadian Centre for the Innovation Economy, is on the Editorial Review Board. One study published in the Harvard Business Review found that Generative AI is being actively used in 100 different ways ranging from changing the tone of an email to providing medical advice.

Drug Discovery: An Area of High AI Potential

In 2018, Google’s DeepMind created AlphaFold, an AI program that predicted protein folding. While not fully solving the protein folding problem, it was seen as key moment for AI to find solutions to health and environmental challenges. Here we are six years after the first iteration and Google’s DeepMind and Isomorphic Labs announced AlphaFold 3 in Nature on May 8, 2024.

According to the company, AlphaFold can now “predict the structure and interactions of all of life’s molecules.” The program is going to be available for free through the AlphaFold Server and will likely significantly reduce the time and money needed for drug discovery. When thinking about AlphaFold’s advancements over the last six years, it gives an inkling of how much more capable programs like ChatGPT or Claude could become.

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