Artificial intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio says regulation in Canada is on the right path, but progress is far too sluggish.
Speaking in Montreal, the Université de Montréal professor said he backed a bill tabled in the House of Commons last June that adopts a more general, principles-based approach to AI guardrails and leaves details to a later date.
However, Ottawa has said the act known as Bill C-27 will come into force no sooner than 2025.
"That's way too slow," Bengio told reporters Wednesday. "There are simple things that could happen that don't need two years to be figured out."
He is calling on the federal government to begin rolling out rules immediately against certain threats, such as "counterfeiting humans" using AI-driven bots.
"The users need to know that they're talking to a machine or a human. Accounts on social media and so on need to be regulated so we know who's behind the account — and it has to be human beings most of the time," said Bengio, who in 2019 won the Turing Award, known as the Nobel Prize of the technology industry.
Criticized as vague by some legal experts, the Liberals' Artificial Intelligence and Data Act lays out a framework for responsible AI development that aims for agility amid the technology's constant evolution.
The law, part of a broader bill on consumer privacy and data protection, would ban "reckless and malicious" AI use, establish oversight by a commissioner and the industry minister and impose financial penalties. But definitions around key terms such as "high-impact AI systems" and specifics on how they would have to adhere to human rights laws would be developed down the line.
Even after it takes effect, the act would focus initially on education, guidelines and helping businesses comply voluntarily.
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