AI Futures Policy Lab:


On June 25, 2018, CIFAR and the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) hosted an AI Futures Policy Lab in Toronto. This lab was designed to facilitate capacity building for emerging policy leaders, both within and outside of the civil service, by encouraging critical thinking surrounding a number of possible future AI scenarios based in 2028. In order to create an intimate space that enabled thoughtful collaboration and information sharing, attendance was capped, with total of 18 participants present on the day.

The workshop incorporated foresight exercises with brainstorming activities to develop contemporary AI policy approaches in a variety of domains. The agenda is provided in Appendix A. This was the first in a series of five workshops that will take place across Canada throughout the remainder of 2018.

Policy Lab Activities

1. The AI Thing from the Future

The workshop kicked off with a card game, The ‘AI' Thing from the Future. The purpose of this activity was to encourage participants to be creative and set the tone for the proceeding exercises throughout the day, which pushed attendees to think beyond our current reality. Participants split into four groups of five, each accompanied by a facilitator. Each group was then given five cards, each containing a different prompt: ARC, to signify what type of future; terrain, defining the thematic context or location of the object; object, specifying the type of artifact you are focusing on; mood, suggesting how you might feel when experiencing this thing; and AI, indicating the technological capability or application that needs to be integrated in your future “thing” (Appendix B).

Each participant was provided with a template (Appendix C) to record their idea. Participants were required to individually imagine a future object, or ‘thing’, utilizing all card prompts. Each participant then had the opportunity to share these ideas with the rest of the group.

2. AI 101

Following this exercise, participants were joined by Katya Kudashkina, a researcher from the Vector Institute, who defined common AI terms, described learning techniques, and provided expert knowledge on AI applications across a variety of fields. Participants were able to ask questions and receive clarity from a professional working in the area of AI. This provided attendees with knowledge and resources to draw on for subsequent activities.

Download the Full Summary

In partnership with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E), this project has been designed to help emerging policy leaders across Canada understand and respond to the opportunities and challenges that accompany the rapid development of artificial intelligence.