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Digital Policy Salon: Tech-enabled Futures & Technovirtuism

Welcome to the twelfth issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing. This week we're thinking about tec
Digital Policy Salon
Digital Policy Salon: Tech-enabled Futures & Technovirtuism
By ICTC-CTIC • Issue #12 • View online
Welcome to the twelfth issue of the Digital Policy Salon briefing.
This week we’re thinking about tech-enabled futures: several Canadian companies are going “digital by default,” Cleantech is taking center stage in conversations around recovery plans, and the SpaceX shuttle “Crew Dragon” is preparing its historic launch for this weekend.
Our COVID-19 policy updates illustrate several of the impacts the pandemic is having on the digital economy, while our first perspective piece examines economic diversification in Alberta and the lasting impact of oil prices. In addition, significant changes may be on the horizon for arts, culture, and the labour market, which is the topic explored by this week’s article in our Future of Canada series. In tomorrow’s era, whether we’re working from home or touring space, we’ll need ethical guidance, and this week’s Tech & Human Rights interview is a meditative look at philosophical traditions and the approaches that classical thinkers might take to tech and tech futures. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to seeing you next week.
Tyler & Faun

COVID-19 Policy Updates 🇨🇦
COVID-19 sparks new data partnerships for the Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada is working with companies like QuickBooks to gain more granular detail regarding the impact of COVID-19 on small to medium sized businesses (SMEs), as well as the success of current policy responses in moderating those impacts. While not yet definitive, preliminary analysis hints that policies like the 75% wage subsidy and small business loans have helped mitigate the severity of job losses and business closures to date.
The Bank had previously relied almost entirely on GDP data, which can be too broad to yield granular insights and is generated only quarterly. QuickBooks has over 600,000 SMEs on their platform and is providing data regarding aging unpaid invoices, cash balances, and the creation of records of employment.
Naturally, SMEs that have the digital infrastructure in place to operate their business online are more able to weather the impacts of COVID-19. However, while approximately two-thirds of Canadians buy products and services using eCommerce platforms, in 2017, just one-third of Canadian SMEs had websites that allowed for online ordering or booking. It will be interesting to see how these figures change as a result of the virus.
ICT giants embracing permanent digital workforces
Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify announced last week they would close all offices until at least 2021, at which point almost all employees would work from home indefinitely with access to small gathering spaces in regional hubs. Similar announcements were made by US tech staples Facebook, Twitter, and Square, and according to Facebook, up to 50% of their 48,000-person workforce could be remote by 2030.
Depending on the breadth and reach of this trend, a permanent work-from-home workforce could have profound impacts on other policy challenges that persistently affect communities around the world–climate change, housing affordability, urban sprawl, urban transport, and internet access, to name a few.
Invest in Ottawa CEO Michael Tremblay commented that a digital-by-default approach could help Canada’s tech industry build, scale, and grow without having to worry about traditional roadblocks like commercial real estate availability. - Mairead Matthews | email
Our Perspective
Towards Greener Pastures: Alberta’s Cleantech Opportunity
Culture and Economics: Gig work, the Arts, and Our Uncertain Future
Interviews in the Field
Designing the Good Life
Andrew Sears, Founder of the Technovirtuism Project
Andrew Sears, Founder of the Technovirtuism Project
What We're Reading
SpaceX crew launch live updates: Launch is postponed, NASA to try again Saturday
Research Visualized
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) conducts periodic surveys to assess how Canadians feel about the security of their personal information. The last survey, conducted in 2018-2019, shows that upwards of 82% of Canadians are “at least somewhat concerned” about companies using their personal information to do things like tailor commercial offers or make predictions or decisions about them. Many of these use cases resemble existing commercial use of data for AI. - Mairead Matthews | email
ICTC, 2020. Source: 2018-19 Survey of Canadians on Privacy, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, March 2019. https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-actions-and-decisions/research/explore-privacy-research/2019/por_2019_ca/
ICTC, 2020. Source: 2018-19 Survey of Canadians on Privacy, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, March 2019. https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-actions-and-decisions/research/explore-privacy-research/2019/por_2019_ca/
Our Research
Harnessing the Benefits of AI While Reducing the Harms
Twitter Highlights
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