Canadians fearful that artificial intelligence chatbots are about to put them out of a job may be able to breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now, as few companies have signed onto the tech, though that’s probably not good for their — and the country’s — competitiveness.
Just over a third of businesses in Canada are exploring adoption of OpenAI LP’s ChatGPT, a generative artificial intelligence platform, in their day-to-day operations, according to a recent survey from KPMG LLP. But that’s a far cry from what’s happening south of the border, where 65 per cent of United States companies have already adopted the technology.
Usage of non-generative artificial intelligence, a broader technology which KPMG said has been deployed across sectors such as health care and finance to boost productivity and competitiveness, is even worse. A mere 35 per cent of organizations in Canada say they are using such AI, compared to 72 per cent of businesses in the United States.
Of Canadian companies that do use AI, four in 10 have deployed it in call centres. But more than half of leaders who’ve rolled out artificial intelligence in their organizations said they could be doing a better job of integrating it more efficiently.
The survey results appear to paint a picture of a country woefully behind its neighbour to the south. That could ultimately have implications for how well Canadian companies perform on the world stage, as those that use AI appear to have a “competitive advantage,” the study said.
“Generative AI can be powerful if used correctly and responsibly, and it enables businesses to be more efficient, productive and competitive,” Benjie Thomas, Canadian managing partner, Advisory Services at KPMG, said in a press release. “Canadian businesses that aren’t adopting AI today might be putting themselves at risk of falling behind, especially as competitors south of the border continue to advance in this field.”
There are big gains to be won by deploying artificial intelligence in businesses, with countries standing to benefit, too, research shows. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted in a recent study that generative AI could disrupt more than 300 million jobs across major economies. While that might not sound like a win on the surface, it’s actually a recipe for boosted productivity, because more automation will free up workers to take on other tasks. As a result, global gross domestic product could grow seven per cent over a decade, the study said. That might be a conservative estimate. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP estimates AI as a whole could raise global GDP by 26 per cent by 2030 — an additional US$15.7 trillion.
Still, business leaders in Canada said adoption of artificial intelligence remains elusive thanks to a lack of employees with the right expertise, according to the KPMG survey. Forty-seven per cent said they don’t have skilled workers on staff that know how to work with AI and ensure algorithms are correct. Incomplete data is also a problem, with 44 per cent of companies admitting the information they’ve collected is low quality — perhaps because of a too small or too large sample size — or is incorrect or in the wrong format.
Failure to get that data optimized and accurate could ultimately affect companies’ bottom lines. “Without quality data, AI algorithms are susceptible to output that is biased, incorrect, misleading and unreliable,” Zoe Willis, partner and national data and digital lead at KPMG in Canada, said. “The consequences for businesses include errors that lead to poor business decisions.”
Company leaders have other things to consider when trying to get AI right, such as creating a solid framework that helps them manage risk. Such a framework would need to incorporate policies around privacy, security, fairness and reliability, KPMG said. It also must be nimble enough to adapt, especially as AI changes at an increasingly rapid pace.
“Organizations need to have AI models that are effective, long-lasting, but also agile enough to adapt to the world around them,” said Kareem Sadek, partner, Advisory, IT & Emerging Technology risk leader. “Organizations that don’t do this will be less competitive and trustworthy and will eventually fall behind.”