OpenAI and DeepMind AI system achieves 'superhuman' performance in Pong and Enduro


Machines learning to play games by watching humans might sound like the plot of a science fiction novel, but that's exactly what researchers at OpenAI -- a nonprofit, San Francisco-based AI research company backed by Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and Peter Thiel, among other tech luminaries -- and Google subsidiary DeepMind claim to have accomplished. In a paper published on the preprint server Their deep neural network -- which, like other neural networks, consists of mathematical functions loosely modeled on neurons in the brain -- achieved superhuman performance on two out of the nine Atari games tested (Pong and Enduro) and beat baseline models in seven. The research was submitted to the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2018), which is scheduled to take place in Montreal, Canada during the first week in December. "To solve complex real-world problems with reinforcement learning, we cannot rely on manually specified reward functions," the team wrote.

Federal funding to help create artificial intelligence hub at U of A


The federal government believes Edmonton and the University of Alberta will lead Canada into the coming artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, which is expected to increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion by 2030 and disrupt every facet of life. That's why Western Economic Diversification Canada announced $2.5 million for the creation of the Artificial Intelligence-Supercomputing Hub for Academic and Industry Collaboration at the U of A, today. The innovative space, designed to be a collaborative link between industry and academia to bring new AI products to market, will be equipped with high performance computers capable of processing vast amounts of raw data in hours instead of days. "In a market of such potential, Canada must take part and I believe Edmonton can lead us," said Amerjeet Sohi, federal minister of natural resources, who was on hand to make the announcement on behalf of the Government of Canada. "The AI-Hub will help Canada and Canadian businesses compete in the global innovation race to bring new technologies and products to market and bolster our economy."

Canada's Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem -- Montreal


There's no question that Canadian AI is booming. But what makes the Canadian major cities such exceptional hubs of research and startup activity? After digging into the history of key AI actors and institutes in Montreal, the relationships among them and their impact on local entrepreneurs and the growth of the community, we found that Montreal's AI story has three parts, all of which have positive network effects for startups and corporations working in AI: The major difference between Montreal and many other technology hubs is the atmosphere of fellowship and the belief that scientific progress should be for everyone. This foundation of knowledge sharing -- forged by some of the most prominent AI researchers in the world -- has led to to a convergence of AI talent and research support, as well as the establishment of AI research labs, both academic and corporate, in the city. La Belle Ville has research roots that extend across the globe.

R.I.P. HAL: Douglas Rain, Voice Of Computer In '2001,' Dies At 90


Douglas Rain, a Shakespeare actor who provided the eerie, calmly homicidal voice of HAL in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died at the age of 90. The Canadian actor died Sunday morning, according to the Stratford Festival, where Rain spent 32 seasons acting in such roles such as Othello's Iago and Twelfth Night's Malvolio. He was also a founding member of the company. The Winnipeg-born actor had dozens of theater, film and television credits. However, Rain's biggest mark on pop culture was less Shakespearean, but perhaps just as much a classic: as 2001's HAL 9000, a sentient, rogue computer in a film written in collaboration with science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and widely regarded as Kubrick's masterpiece.

Fintech startup that bases loans on artificial intelligence assessment helping many small businesses


Two months into the launch of her dance studio, Natalie Borch needed a loan. The 34-year-old first-time business owner had opened the doors to The Pink Studio in February after she and her brother invested $40,000 of their own cash and took out a $100,000 loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada. "We just needed a small amount of money to expand our services for new teachers and classes," she said, from beginner Beyonce to Bollywood fusion. Finding no help from the main banks, she found Lendified Inc., a fintech startup that offers loans to small businesses based on artificial intelligence-powered screening assessments. After filling out a few online forms on cash flow and collateral, Borch received a $30,000 loan.

Inside Facebook's fight to beat Google and dominate in AI


The monitors are piled in side-by-side, one on top of the other, and there's barely enough room for the 20 or so research scientists and engineers, who work for the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group. "We're moving to a new office soon," says Joelle Pineau, head of FAIR's Montreal lab and an associate professor at McGill University. Pineau's lab has grown from four people to 20 since it was established a little over a year ago, and it isn't the only FAIR lab expanding rapidly. The FAIR group as a whole -- tasked with advancing the field of AI -- has grown to almost 200 researchers worldwide since it was founded by Facebook's chief AI scientist Yann LeCun in 2013, and is set to double by 2020. Its mission: to develop the smartest machines possible.

Even Alphabet is having trouble reinventing smart cities


An ambitious smart-city project spearheaded by Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs has run into local resistance, causing delays. The backstory: Waterfront Toronto, a development agency founded by the Canadian government, partnered with the Google sister company in October 2017 to create a futuristic neighborhood on the Toronto waterfront. Sidewalk Labs plans to fill the 12-acre plot with driverless shuttle buses, garbage-toting robots, and other gadgets to show how emerging technologies can improve city life. The problem: Sidewalk Labs' connection to Google and vague descriptions of its business model alarmed privacy advocates and urban planners from the start. Local pushback has increased since, causing a key supporter to resign from the project and delaying the release of its final development plan to spring 2019.

Canadian hospital 1st to install imaging app in AI digital command center


Toronto's Humber River Hospital (HRH), which opened in 2015, is the first hospital in the world to install a medical imaging "tile"--or app--into its NASA-style, 4,500 square-foot digital command center in collaboration with GE Healthcare Partners. Recognized as North America's first fully digital hospital, installing a medical imaging tile into its digital command center in July 2018 made sense for HRH, which serves a region of more than 850,000 people. Six other hospitals in the U.S. and one in Europe have already installed or have plans to open command centers next year, a GE spokeswoman told HealthImaging. By 2020, GE hopes digital command centers will become a feature hospitals can't survive without. Essentially, HRH's command center is a literal wall continuously processing real-time data from multiple source systems across the hospital.

Fujitsu launches artificial intelligence offshoot at Munich Forum


The announcement was one of several at the Fujitsu Forum in Munich to feature AI developments. Fujitsu Intelligence Technology brings together the company's AI work in Japan and around the world to run it from Vancouver, Canada. The area has many research institutions such as the University of Toronto engaged in AI and quantum computing research, as well as startup technology companies. The government there is pushing the country towards AI. "In Vancouver and across British Columbia, Fujitsu will have the opportunity to collaborate with our state-of-the-art universities and research facilities to discover new ways that artificial intelligence can help solve local and global challenges," said John Horgan, Premier of the Province of British Columbia.

Small investments can leverage big data for construction sector - - Journal Of Commerce


If there's one thing Rory Armes wants audiences at Buildex Calgary to understand, it's the idea that even a small investment in big data and predictive artificial intelligence (AI) can provide actionable insights and pay solid dividends. Armes is CEO of Eight Solutions Inc., a company built on the idea that any business, large or small, can benefit from big data analytics and predictive AI. Its proprietary solution is Cumul8, a cloud-based Internet of Things platform that accepts a wide range of data from any type of monitoring device, then teases valuable conclusions from that data. "People are sometimes left with the notion that they either go all-in on costly predictive AI systems, or stay out of it altogether," says Armes. "Those unrealistic polar choices leaves them comatose." He aims to demystify the concepts around big data in a construction context, explain predictive AI and show how it can quickly demonstrate value.