Save the date! May 2, 2018CFLA-FCAB’s First National Forum @ Saskatchewan’s Libraries Conference! Be a part of history – be a part of informing Canada’s library policies on Intellectual Freedom & Artificial Intelligence#cflafcab2018

Why #ArtificialIntelligence? #AI stands to impact all parts of our lives, our work, our communities and our education. And since libraries – whether they are in the public, academic, government, school or corporate sectors – are an integral part of people’s lives, work, community and learning – AI is a significant issue with which we in the information and library sector must be involved. We can’t just be impacted by AI. We must use AI.

AI is all about data. Libraries have data. Lots of data. Are we using it? Mining it? Gaining deep insights from it? Using it to build AI tools? C’mon – admit it. We may be using our data in traditional ways, such as for operational decisions or reporting, but we are not mining our data to identify patterns and use for decision-making.

MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s magazine lists the Top 10 Breakthroughs expected for 2018. While all 10 have a ripple effect for libraries, 3 have

significant implications for information-intensive services and work:

  • Sensing City (see below)
  • AI for Everybody
  • Perfect Online Privacy

Let’s take, for instance, Sensing City. Given that I’m sitting just north of Toronto, and given that Toronto is the city used in the example, this seems reasonable. Quoting from the zine:

“Numerous smart-city schemes have run into delays, dialed down their ambitious goals, or priced out everyone except the super-wealthy. A new project in Toronto, called Quayside, is hoping to change that pattern of failures by rethinking an urban neighborhood from the ground up and rebuilding it around the latest digital technologies.

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, based in New York City, is collaborating with the Canadian government on the high-tech project, slated for Toronto’s industrial waterfront.

One of the project’s goals is to base decisions about design, policy, and technology on information from an extensive network of sensors that gather data on everything from air quality to noise levels to people’s activities.

The plan calls for all vehicles to be autonomous and shared. Robots will roam underground doing menial chores like delivering the mail. Sidewalk Labs says it will open access to the software and systems it’s creating so other companies can build services on top of them, much as people build apps for mobile phones.

The company intends to closely monitor public infrastructure, and this has raised concerns about data governance and privacy. But Sidewalk Labs believes it can work with the community and the local government to alleviate those worries.

“What’s distinctive about what we’re trying to do in Quayside is that the project is not only extraordinarily ambitious but also has a certain amount of humility,” says Rit Aggarwala, the executive in charge of Sidewalk Labs’ urban-systems planning. That humility may help Quayside avoid the pitfalls that have plagued previous smart-city initiatives.

Other North American cities are already clamoring to be next on Sidewalk Labs’ list, according to Waterfront Toronto, the public agency overseeing Quayside’s development. “San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, and Boston have all called asking for introductions,” says the agency’s CEO, Will Fleissig. —Elizabeth Woyke


Why It Matters:

Key Players:

Availability:    Project announced in October 2017; construction could begin in 2019



While there are many articles and posts surfacing in the library sector about AI, do have a look at Chris Bourg’s What happens to libraries and librarians when machines can read all the books?  Director of Libraries at MIT, Chris is astute – a deep thinker, and she pulls no punches.  We have no time to pull punches; we need to be involved – intricatly involved – with AI. Not as users, as players.

We need to be at CFLA-FCAB’s National Forum. The panel leading the discourse on #AI (I prefer discourse to discussion as we do need to provoke our thinking, and discourse just sounds a bit edgier…) is Danica Pawlick-Potts, MLIS student and soon to be PhD candidate in AI, and is Coop librarian at U of Guelph; Scott Hargrove, CEO Fraser-Valley Regional Library System; Michael Ridley; PhD. Candidate in Artificial Intelligence, Librarian, Former Chief Information Officer, University of Guelph; and Brent Barron, Director, Public Policy CIFAR: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Speaking of which, CIFAR is a major player in Canada’s AI. Dr. Elissa Strome, Executive Director of CIFAR’s Pan-Canadian AI Strategy leading a international team of incredible experts, implementing the $125 million strategy announced by the Government of Canada last year, in partnership with the three newly established AI institutes – Amii in Edmonton, the Vector Institute in Toronto and MILA in Montreal.


CFLA-FCAB National Forum

May 2, 2018: Regina

Be there. Be a part of informing the library associations’ policies regarding AI: All In.