Our AI + Public Policy: Understanding the shift conference on March 23, 2018, brought together senior government leaders and industry experts for a day of stimulating speakers and in-depth discussions on the past, present, and future of AI and its potential impacts on public policy.

Ontario is an emerging AI Leader

Recent technological advances have drastically improved the capabilities of artificial intelligence algorithms, and Canada is at the forefront of this wave. But, beyond research and commercialization opportunities, AI has the potential to fundamentally alter our society, with enormous potential consequences for public policy and government services.

Understanding this shift is critical to governments and policymakers as we move into a world that is increasingly influenced by technological change. Ontario has an opportunity to be a leader in the understanding and application of AI to public policy challenges.

Event Highlights

AI + Public Policy: Understanding the Shift

Presented By

In Partnership With

Morning: Level Setting

The field of AI contains a variety of technologies, each at differing maturity levels, that pose a range of benefits and challenges when applied to public life. The morning session will focus on providing foundational knowledge, equipping policy leaders with a better understanding of technology and applications of AI, as well as the significant implications for government.


8:00am Registration Opens, Networking + Light Breakfast
8:45am Opening Remarks from the Government of Ontario + the Brookfield Institute
9:00am Historical Context: Why Now?
9:20am AI 101: Understanding the Technology – Part I
9:40am AI 101: Understanding the Technology – Part II

  • Predictive Analytics
  • Natural Language Processing
  • Image Recognition + Computer Vision
  • Robotics
10:20am Break
10:50am So What? Implications of AI for Policymakers
11:45am Lunch + Networking
12:30am Special Topic: “Digital Deceit”

Afternoon: Drilling Down

Through identifying the considerations and risks that AI possesses for policymakers, the afternoon will involve interactive discussion on the cross-cutting opportunities and risks that AI presents in and outside of government.

1:00pm Cross-Cutting Implications of AI

  • Ethics
  • Bias
  • Explainability
  • Safety
  • Privacy
  • Accountability
2:30 pm Break
2:45pm The Simple Economics of AI
3:00pm Decoding AI: Impacts for Policymakers
4:15pm Wrap Up + Reflections
4:30pm End of Day


This package provides an overview of the key concepts and cross-cutting issues in an AI-enabled world. Beginning with the origins of artificial intelligence, it explores the present-day capabilities and the challenges and opportunities associated with technological advances and their application to public life and public policy. Prepared for participants in advance of the AI+Public Policy conference, these materials are available for public distribution. Both technologists and public servants are encouraged to read these in advance of the event as a level-set prior to what will be a dynamic conversation.


Following the conference, we will:

  • Publish a living document that captures the potential risks and opportunities for the practical application of AI.
  • Publish a report that summarizes the key themes and insights, with a particular view to identifying future areas of work. This could include, but is not limited to a list of potential project ideas inside as well as outside the Ontario Public Service.