The impact of AI on the diversity of cultural expressions is already immense. Protected works are used to feed machines, products resembling visual or literary works are generated in seconds, and high-quality deepfakes have made headlines recently. The spectrum of concerns is broad. While copyright is currently the most discussed aspect, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Employment, the creative process, and the way recommendation algorithms influence public choices are all impacted by AI.

The realms of artificial intelligence and culture are not simply parallel; they are inextricably linked. At the “All In” event, touted as “Canada’s largest artificial intelligence event,” culture, fortunately, managed to carve out a space, enabling creators, professionals, and researchers to interact. Culture must always be included in major discussions relating to the responsible development of artificial intelligence.

A critical question arises: Can these developments benefit the Canadian creative ecosystem? We believe it is possible, with public policies, adapted legislation, and more partnerships between creative and AI sectors. However, this requires that culture is not just a guest in AI discussions but a genuine stakeholder. After all, culture is not only a reflection of our common identity but also a pillar of our democracy.

For achieving synergy between culture and AI, several levers need to be activated. This includes the implementation of our new Broadcasting Act by the CRTC and the improvement of our Copyright Act – battered by the 2012 review, but this is not enough. We must ensure that culture is also at the heart of emerging consultations, laws, and regulations, for instance Bill C-27.

To target all these levers of action and quickly build an effective strategy, we could follow France’s example, where the Strategic Council for AI has created an expert committee focused on cultural issues. Canada could greatly benefit from a similar initiative, ideally under the shared aegis of the Ministry of Industry, Science, and Economic Development and Canadian Heritage.

It is time for Canada to recognize and value the confluence of AI and culture, not as separate domains, but as partners with linked destinies.

    Culture, Artificial Intelligence, and Responsible Development: Urgent Connections to Build!

    Open letter
    27 September 2023
    Artificial Intelligence