12 June 2018

Quebecers' perception of artificial intelligence according to the Barometre CIRANO 2018


Quebecers are less worried about their own job than they are about the overall labor market and ready to be trained to upgrade their skills to adapt the technological changes


Most Quebecers (61%) believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will transform workers' tasks and 53% believe that it will cause many job losses. However, the vast majority of them do not feel this apprehension about their personal situation: only 17% believe that AI could cause them to lose their own jobs and 26% believe that it will affect their tasks at work. These specific results on the impact of artificial intelligence on the labour market were taken from the CIRANO 2018 Barometer. Some were discussed yesterday at the Governance and Artificial Intelligence panel during the Montreal Conference of the International Economic Forum of the Americas.

More specifically, the CIRANO Barometer reveals that Quebecers who feel personally more affected by the rise of AI and fear for job loss are more likely to be found among residents of the Montréal metropolitan area (21%), anglophones (22% versus 15% for Francophones), skilled and manual workers (27%), high school graduates (20%) and college graduates (19% versus 11% of university graduates) and those whose annual family income is less than $80,000.

On the other hand, the majority of Quebecers believe that the development of artificial intelligence will make companies more efficient since only 17% do not agree with this statement. Moreover, they believe that the sectors that will benefit most from its potential are home automation, manufacturing and medical.


Quebecers' priorities for action

"The development of AI will inevitably lead to the redefinition or elimination of certain jobs, but it will also create new ones," says Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin, co-author of the study, professor at Polytechnique Montréal and president and CEO of CIRANO. ‘’It is therefore important that this fourth industrial revolution be supported by a considerable effort in terms of training so that Quebecers can fully contribute to tomorrow's society. ‘’

In this perspective, CIRANO wanted to survey Quebecers on the courses of action they would like the government to advocate to better manage the impacts related to the development of AI.

Here are their priorities:

More than half of Quebecers (54%) believe that the government should support employees who will potentially be laid off because of the adoption of new technologies. ‘’This proportion is totally independent of any socio-demographic considerations’’, says Ingrid Peignier, co-author of the study and project director, communications and partner relations at CIRANO. ‘’So whatever their income, housing region, occupation, level of education, language, a large proportion of Quebecers consider this course of action to be a priority.’’

The protection of personal data collected by connected objects and AI programs seems to be a concern because 47% of Quebecers consider it essential that the government make it a priority. Finally, 34% want the government to provide funding to businesses to train their employees in new digital technologies.

Overall, the solution to these technological changes is not unique and requires the collaboration not only of governments and universities but also of businesses and ultimately of Quebecers. In light of this study, it appears that Quebecers are more curious than worried about the deployment of artificial intelligence. Most of them (61%) seem to want to be part of the solution since they say they are ready to train to adapt to these technological upheavals, concludes Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin.


This survey was conducted between April 5 and 10, 2018 among 1013 respondents representing the Quebec population. This study is part of the CIRANO Pole of Excellence's ongoing projects on the socio-economic impacts of digital transformation in Québec and innovative public policies.


For more information:

On Quebecers' perception of artificial intelligence, download the PPT presentation  (french).


About the CIRANO Barometer: Analysis of annual survey data from a sample of 1000 respondents representative of the Quebec population to better understand the perception of Quebecers' risks on 47 issues/projects grouped into seven major societal issues: environmental issues, industrial issues, technological innovation issues, health issues, safety issues, socio-economic issues and infrastructure and public project issues.

The Barometer makes it possible to enrich reflection and above all to provide relevant information in the strategic decision-making process by presenting to decision-makers the public's concerns on various social issues, which can then be integrated into the elaboration and implementation of public policies.

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