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Federal government plans to increase its use of AI — with some big exceptions

Treasury Board President Anita Anand says she wants to increase the use of artificial intelligence in Canada's public service but insists there's no question of using AI tools like ChatGPT for confidential information like cabinet documents.

Speaking to reporters Monday as she launched consultations on the use of AI in the public service, Anand said the government is looking for a strategy to use AI responsibly.

«This is in the area of generative AI, in particular incorporating platforms like ChatGPT into the workplace,» she said.

«Managers will have the discretion as to when that is able to be used, but I will say that in areas of confidentiality, cabinet confidences for example, generative AI isn't generally going to be used.»

When asked why the government doesn't plan to allow public servants to use AI tools with confidential documents, Anand said that's part of a separate consultation.

«The issues relating to confidentiality are being addressed in our review of the use of confidential information across government,» she said. «And so, I'm currently looking at that under a trust and transparency approach and I will have more to say on that specific issue very shortly. Not today, but shortly.»

Anand said she wants the government's strategy to avoid bias or discrimination in the use of AI.

«This is the part of the work that we're doing to ensure that the AI tools that we are incorporating are not used for unsavoury or discriminatory purposes,» she said. «It is part of the work that we're doing to use AI responsibly.»

Anand acknowledged the government will have to compete with the private sector for the technological talent it will need to increase its use of AI but said there are plans to retrain existing public servants.


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