By Marina Laven

Artificial intelligence has already disrupted myriad consumer products and services. Soon, a company’s ability to remain competitive will necessitate that they incorporate AI, not only to save time and money, but also to develop products that better serve consumer needs. While human beings remain necessary for creating ethical AI strategies and responding appropriately to ambiguity, applications of artificial intelligence are already widespread.

To gain a better understanding of how Canadians view artificial intelligence and its impact on their personal and work lives, we surveyed 1001 adults in our Canadian Artificial Intelligence Tracker. One piece of that study, which we share here, focused on perceptions about seven consumer facing companies applying AI technologies.

Leaders in AI Technologies

When asked which of seven companies could be seen as leaders in developing artificial intelligence technologies, nearly half of people said they did not know (43%). Even when given seven global, highly recognizable choices, they could not choose any as a leader.

However, 29% of people did choose Google as a leader in AI technologies. Given that Google holds 58% of browser market share and 74% of search engine share, such widespread access to people could easily increase their likelihood of being recognized. Google has been public about its AI experiments including DeepDream and AutoDraw, as well as its more serious projects like AlphaGo, DeepMind, and Quantum AI projects.

Behind Google, 21% of Canadians chose Apple as a leader in AI technologies. This second place status could be because Apple has been more secret about its research and has published less often. However, given that Apple products have lower market share (3% of browser share, 7% of PC share, 34% of phone share), second place in people’s minds might actually be a good result. People are familiar with Apple’s Siri AI, and Apple is starting to be more public about Core ML, their machine learning technology for Siri, the camera, and QuickType.

In terms of gender differences revealed by the research, women were more likely than men to say they didn’t know which company was the leader, a trend which carried over to 6 of the 7 brands – except for the Apple brand. Women might feel slightly less aware of AI technology leaders in general but their confidence in Apple is disproportionately higher.

Ethical Approaches to AI

The ethics behind AI is not without controversy as we’ve discussed in a previous post (See Arguing for Morality in a World Run by Artificial Intelligence). In this study, when asked which of the seven specified companies had more ethical approaches to using artificial intelligence, more than half of people were unable to pinpoint a leader (60%). However, about 18% of people said that Google had the most ethical approach followed by Apple (15%), and Tesla (13%).

In this case, age was very much a determining factor as younger people were much more likely to choose a company as being an ethical leader in comparison to older people (52% vs 28%). For the most part, the rank order of ethical leaders remained the same across all age groups.

These high rates of being unable to choose ethical leaders means that none of these companies has succeeded in positioning themselves as the leader, or even a leader. The door is wide open for any company that wishes to establish themselves as the most ethical user of artificial intelligence. With so many concerns about trust and transparency (see the full report), any company wanting to position themselves in this way has a long way to go.

Best AI Products

In recent years, artificial intelligence has been applied to a wide variety of products and services, many of which relate to marketing and research. In this study, we took a broader view of AI applications and asked people which of these seven companies provide the best AI products and services. Once again, uncertainty prevailed with 50% of people saying they don’t know.

The top ranking company was Google with one quarter of people choosing them (26%). As before, immediately behind Google was Apple at 22%. And, also as before, the trend for women to be less inclined than men to choose companies specific companies continued – except for Apple.


These results clearly demonstrate that the race to lead or dominate within the field of AI products and services continues. People do not agree on a leader, whether in products or in ethical behaviours. Indeed, most people can’t even choose any company that might be perceived as a leader.

There is plenty of a space for any company to pull ahead and become known as the global leader. This will require a major strategy to gain the trust of consumers (see the full report) but the company that succeeds in doing so will reap the rewards.

Methodology: The Canadian Artificial Intelligence Tracker was conducted by Sklar Wilton & Associates among Canadians 18+ with data collected from July 31 to August 7, 2017. Participants were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys. The data were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of adult Canadians. Estimates of sampling error cannot be calculated. All sample surveys are subject to error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error. 

Click here to download the Sklar Wilton Canadian Artificial Intelligence Paper 2017