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Canadians excited by the potential of AI, robotics and machine learning

Expect emerging tech to have a dramatic and positive effect on their lives, but think major changes are still many years away


Nearly 7 in 10 Canadians are excited by the potential of technology to dramatically improve their lives but believe the real advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and machine learning are still years away, finds new consumer research from KPMG in Canada.

Vintage style evolution of robot technologies.

“It is great to see that Canadians believe in and embrace the potential of new technologies but the runway to get there is not nearly as long as Canadians think,” says Peter Hughes, partner and digital services leader for KPMG. “I think the speed of change is happening faster than people realize but the difference is that our definition of ‘fast’ continues to change.”

Canadians believe new technologies will dramatically improve their lives

  • 69 per cent of Canadians are excited by the potential of AI, robotics and machine learning
    • 22 per cent are very excited
    • 47 are somewhat excited but think advances are still years away
  • 16 per cent are not very excited as they expect the changes will only be incremental
  • 15 per cent are concerned that technology is taking over

Hughes notes that we are exiting the digital era of technology (mobile, social, cloud, web) and are now in the exponential era. This means that the magnitude, pace and diversity of change will be much bigger than what we have known to date.

“Look at today’s automobiles. A few years ago, even simple things like back up cameras, and safety sensors were rare. Not only are these virtually standard now,  the machines are getting smarter with automatic steering to keep you in your lane, self-parking or braking for you in traffic. This is all artificial intelligence that is happening today with significant impact.

“Ultimately, as this evolves we will not only have ‘smarter’ cars but smarter roadways where all the cars on the road talk to each other, the road infrastructure, weather reports, etc. This will require 5G speeds which makes the next investments in networking capacity critically important. ”

Canadians don’t think new technologies will threaten their jobs

  • 11 per cent of Canadians think new technologies will take their jobs
    • 7 per cent expect their job to be automated
    • 4 expect their job to be eliminated altogether
  • 55 per cent say technology changes are a constant factor in their jobs
  • 35 per cent don’t expect technology to impact what they do

“While it is difficult to predict the exact impact technology advances will have on any given job, it is clear technology will have an increasing impact on the way people work,” adds Hughes. “As the majority of Canadians told us, technology has been reshaping their jobs for years. What we can expect going forward is that technologies like AI, robotics and machine learning will increasingly displace ‘tasks’ and whole parts of jobs, making some obsolete, while introducing new roles and capabilities not previously imagined.”

Vintage style evolution of robot technologies.