Amidst the ongoing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) across various industries, Canadian workers are navigating a juncture marked by both optimism and uncertainty. While 57% embrace AI as a beacon of progress, a significant 61% harbor concerns over its potential dark side.

A study conducted by TECHNATION—Canada's premier technology industry association—shed light on prevailing attitudes. Nearly two-thirds foresee a talent exodus should AI investment lag, underscoring the stakes of falling behind in the global race. Moreover, 42% of Canadians asserted that the nation's quality of life hinges on the extent of technological investments made.

Yet, a resounding call for action has emerged from the 2,000 Canadian workers that were surveyed, whereby six in ten Canadians advocated for robust AI investment.

Their rationale extends beyond mere technological prowess; it speaks to a collective ambition to nurture a skilled workforce adept in AI.

Canadians’ AI Awareness and Perception

TECHNATION's AI Survey of Canadian Employees underscored a prevailing lack of awareness regarding AI, with 43% admitting to having minimal to no knowledge on the subject. Moreover, a notable 55% expressed their discomfort with relying on AI for decision-making, indicating a pervasive distrust in its capacity to supplant human judgment.

This skepticism extended to job security, where 87% expressed their concerns about potential job displacement due to AI-driven automation. Less than one-fifth of respondents believe that AI will generate more employment opportunities than it eliminates, reflecting a prevailing skepticism regarding its role in the future workforce landscape.

Despite recognizing the potential benefits of AI, such as enhanced fraud detection (86%) and streamlined government services (73%), respondents displayed degrees of wariness. Transparency regarding AI implementation is, thus, a paramount concern, especially given that 95% of Canadians advocated for clear communication on its usage. Additionally, apprehensions loomed over national security implications, with 93% expressing unease.

The widespread unease surrounding misinformation and the emergence of ‘deep fake’ content, especially in the context of the upcoming Canadian elections, is also particularly noteworthy.

AI to Boost Productivity

Contrastingly, some survey respondents articulated a wide array of tasks where AI could provide invaluable assistance. A significant majority, representing 73% of respondents, felt comfortable using AI for data analysis, while 68% found it useful for synthesizing vast datasets. Additionally, 63% of participants noted AI's potential in aiding research endeavors. These findings underscore a collective openness to embrace AI across various spheres, highlighting its potential to revolutionize workflows and augment individual capabilities.

Furthermore, an overwhelming 69% of employers expressed that they envision AI as a tool capable of alleviating their workforce's burden by tackling repetitive tasks. This, in turn, would liberate time for endeavors deemed more impactful, as noted by 60% of respondents, while also amplifying overall productivity, according to 57% of participants. Notably, while office settings continue to emerge as the prime arena for AI integration, a substantial 42% of trades and service sector employees acknowledged its potential to enhance efficiency within their domains.