How Google Cloud is helping companies in Canada get started with generative AI
Google believes artificial intelligence could add $210 billion to the Canadian economy.
Google’s Economic Impact Report, released Tuesday, shows generative AI could add eight per cent of gross value to the country, while saving the average Canadian worker 100 hours a year, based on a third-party poll and a sample of Canadian businesses.
“Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this opportunity, but we have to go after it,” Sam Sebastian, vice president and Canada country manager of Google Cloud, said during an AI press roundtable event Tuesday.
“We have to bold, we have to be responsible, but I think it’s a huge opportunity for this country.”
Sebastian added that Canada’s tech sector can take advantage of an AI boom because of its tech workforce, indicating that Toronto has the largest concentration of AI startups in the world, while Montreal has the largest concentration of AI researchers in the world.
Google, which has labelled itself as an “AI first” company since 2015, has begun ramping up its AI investment product stream, including video editing software for creators and expanding its ChatGPT rival Bard into a suite of its products. Bard is now available in 230 countries and territories, though Canada is not one them.
“We see AI as the most important way to deliver on our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible,” Sebastian said.
CANADIAN FIRMS ALREADY TAKING ADVANTAGE
David Fleet, a research scientist with Google DeepMind, said AI adoption among businesses has seen 150 times more projects using generative AI between April and July.
“It’s unprecedented,” he said during the roundtable. “We haven’t seen anything like that before.”
Though recent data from Toronto Metropolitan University found just four per cent of Canadian companies are using AI, Fleet said several major firms are making the AI shift.
CN Rail, for example, is building an AI-powered platform to offer insights into simplifying the supply chain, while Shopify is using AI to help fix “search abandonment,” where customers leave a site if they can’t easily find the item they’re looking for.
Even though AI can streamline business operations, Sebastian said he doesn’t necessarily believe the technology will lead to job cuts.
“With any technology innovation you’re going to see impacts on jobs and how those work, but in general … if anything it’s going to enhance, especially the more straightforward remedial tasks the typical work has to do on a day-to-day basis,” he said.