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Montreal Summit 2020

Hosted virtually from Canada by the Montreal Centre of Expertise (ICEMAI) on 3-4 December 2020, the Montreal Summit offered a chance for leading AI experts from around the world and GPAI member representatives to participate in sessions, networking opportunities and high-level meetings, including the first meetings of GPAI’s governance bodies: the GPAI Council and Steering Committee.

The summit also featured the inaugural GPAI multistakeholder expert groups plenary, which brought together over 200 leading AI experts from academia, civil society, industry, worker/trade union representatives, government, and international organizations to review the progress made by GPAI working groups to date and provide feedback to guide their future work plans. Visit the thematic working group pages to watch their respective sessions and download their reports.

Video highlights and speeches

Address by Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau
Introduction by Minister Navdeep Bains, GPAI Council Chair
(in English and French)

Address by President of France Emmanuel Macron
(in French with English subtitles)

Watch the GPAI Multi-stakeholders Plenary and address by Plenary Chair Baroness Joanna Shields

Chair's summary

Working group sessions

Through dynamic presentations and deliberative sessions with experts, GPAI working groups presented a common objective for their activities – to leverage their collective research and AI projects to tackle major global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Experts noted how the advancement of AI is prompting firms and stakeholders to consider new business models, as reported by the innovation and commercialization working group. Data access and sharing have become a critical global consideration in support of responsible AI innovation. The adoption of AI – and the sharing of data that buoys it – depends on trust that the benefits of the digital economy can be achieved while firmly upholding shared values. Against this backdrop, GPAI will play a key role in 2021 in shaping the global understanding of the practical tools and practices available to guide AI innovation anchored in trust.

Following the launch of the working groups in June 2020, GPAI members expressed a keen interest in seeing the fruits of their labour come to life over the coming months as AI projects in action and new impactful initiatives. They noted the importance of moving from recommendations to applied AI projects in order to achieve GPAI’s mandate. There are several promising suggestions to this end, such as the future of work working group’s Living Labs project, which aims to support knowledge transfer and transdisciplinary innovation between sectors by engaging both business leaders and workers.

Building on the report of the responsible AI working group, which identified diversity and inclusion as critical factors in ensuring the responsible development and use of AI, GPAI members encouraged the Working Groups to work towards greater diversity in the fulfilment of their projects. In this respect, members acknowledged the ongoing efforts of the data governance working group to engage expertise beyond GPAI’s membership.

Given the number of cross-cutting issues at the heart of GPAI, members will look to the experts to identify opportunities for coordination with members of other working groups, including on skills development and data sharing. As illustrated by the legal and ethical challenges the AI and pandemic response working group has identified, the rapid changes arising from the advancement of AI require a holistic response. GPAI’s working groups are well organized to consider such challenges, leveraging their multistakeholder nature to collaborate across domains of expertise.

GPAI Council and Steering Committee

In addition to the expert discussions, the GPAI – Montreal Summit 2020 marked the beginning of Canada’s role as 2020-2021 Chair of the GPAI Council. As part of this responsibility, Canada co-chaired the first meeting of the GPAI Steering Committee on 3 December alongside Baroness Joanna Shields, who was recently elected to the position of Chair of the Multistakeholder Experts Group Plenary. The Steering Committee meeting presented the first opportunity for the two co-chairs and government representatives from France, Italy, Japan, and the United States to collaborate with their non-government counterparts: Christina J. Colclough (labour/trade union); Carly Kind (civil society); Ashley J. Llorens (science); Francesca Rossi (industry); and the Association for the Advancement of AI (international organization).

Taking stock of GPAI’s progress, the Steering Committee expressed its interest in collaborating with the Working Group co-chairs to identify priority projects for the next year. The Steering Committee also agreed on a number of key operational decisions, including with respect to GPAI meeting schedules for 2021, the process for managing Working Groups as new members join, and membership accession.

On 4 December, Ministers from GPAI member countries participated in the GPAI Council meeting, which decided to welcome Brazil, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain as new members to the partnership. Ministers underscored the need for GPAI to focus on advancing practical applications for responsible AI, and recommended the elaboration of mechanisms to share GPAI projects and use cases with the broader international community. As Chair, Canada highlighted its intention to leverage its 2020-2021 term to promote the deployment of applied AI to serve communities around the globe, fostering diversity and inclusion both within the AI ecosystem and among those that stand to benefit from it. It is Canada’s hope that GPAI helps advance a global AI ecosystem built on trust in the digital- and data-driven economy.

Way forward

Recognizing the importance of growing GPAI in a sustainable manner, GPAI members agreed that greater geographic diversity and participation of experts from around the world will be critical to the global acceptance of GPAI’s work as an authority on the responsible development and use of AI.

To that end, the Council mandated the Steering Committee to create a subgroup that will elaborate a process for membership and the nomination of observers, while consistently ensuring the adherence to the OECD AI Principles and the fundamental respect for human rights in the advancement of AI with the objective of announcing new members in the summer of 2021. GPAI members welcomed, in this respect, the interest expressed by Egypt and Turkey in joining GPAI and invited these two countries to observe GPAI’s work over the coming months.

The next meeting of the GPAI Council, which is expected to be convened in summer 2021, will serve as an opportunity to highlight the first use cases of Working Group projects, aimed at demonstrating how the tools advanced through GPAI could be implemented to facilitate responsible innovation of AI, anchored in the shared values of GPAI’s membership.