Ontario could be a leader in autonomous vehicles: JLT Canada Public Sector Summit

Harsh weather and challenging driving conditions could serve as ideal testing ground

Ontario could be at the forefront of autonomous vehicles, according to Ken Coates, the Canada research chair in regional innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

“Ontario has the potential to be a world leader in autonomous vehicles for the simple reason that you have the full four seasons,” said Coates, speaking at the JLT Canada Public Sector Summit in the Blue Mountains, Ont.

Related: Cyber security, liability concerns at the forefront of autonomous vehicles: RIMS Canada Conference

“In Ontario, you have everything from extreme heat to lots of cold ice and snow. And you have the world’s worst driving platform, which is [highway] 401,” he quipped.

Coates’s presentation focused on what Canada may look like in the year 2050, and also touched on the increasing number of cyberattacks Canadians face on a daily basis.

“Every day, you probably get about 150 attempts to steal from you,” he said. “They’re viruses trying to get inside your computer, they’re attempts at identity theft—there are all sorts of scams out there. It’s astonishing how many there are.”

Coates also noted that social media poses a growing problem, as it can serve as a meeting place for extremists.

“One of the impacts of social media is that it’s allowed us not to talk to each other, but to talk to people who think exactly like us,” he said. “So the spread of information has not resulted in greater understanding; it’s actually resulted in [people fragmenting] into tiny groups where white nationalists talk to each other all the time. Extremists of all parties talk to each other all the time.”

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