Alberta


Amii News Updates

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Part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), performs advanced research in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence and helps businesses create a fundamental shift in the way they think about data and decision making, which will drive their next stage of growth.


Canada is open for AI business – some fear too open

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The world's tech powers are sending giant sums of money spinning into Canada, but while many see this as a sign of success, others are worried about researchers and intellectual property being swallowed wholesale. The country is in the midst of an artificial intelligence (AI) boom, with Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Huawei and other global heavyweights spending millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars on research hubs in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. Canadian doors are open – some fear too open. Jim Hinton, an IP lawyer and founder of the Own Innovation consultancy, reckons that more than half of all AI patents in Canada end up being owned by foreign companies. What we need to be doing is getting money out of our ideas ourselves, instead of seeing foreign talent scoop it all up," said Hinton. "Otherwise we'll never have a Canadian champion." The country is home to hundreds of fledgling AI companies, including much-talked-about start-ups like Element AI and Deep Genomics, but they remain relatively small. "They don't have a strong market position yet," Hinton says. Deep learning pioneers such as Yoshua Bengio and Geoffrey Hinton (no relation to Jim) have nurtured top-notch talent in AI in Canada for years, back when AI was an emerging field. But despite Canadian inheriting this brilliant AI lead from the country's AI "godfathers", big foreign players have an unassailable advantage over homegrown efforts, Hinton said. "It's not an easy go for the average company to make a business out of AI.


Virtual Assistants Provide Disappointing Advice When Asked for First Aid, Emergency Information: Study

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A study at Canada's University of Alberta found some virtual assistants are far better than others at providing users reliable, relevant information on medical emergencies. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have found that virtual assistants do not live up to their potential in terms of providing users with reliable, relevant information on medical emergencies. The team tested four commonly used devices--Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana--using 123 questions about 39 first aid topics, including heart attacks, poisoning, nosebleeds, and splinters. The devices' responses were measured for accuracy of topic recognition, detection of the severity of the emergency, complexity of language used, and how closely the advice given fit with accepted first aid treatment and guidelines. Google Home performed the best, recognizing topics with 98% accuracy and providing relevant advice 56% of the time.


Project aims to tackle gender/ethnic bias in AI recruitment

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The BIAS – Responsible AI for Labour Market Equality project will explore how Artificial Intelligence can lead to unintentional bias in the processes of job advertising, hiring and professional networking, which are increasingly digitalised. Lancaster University will lead the three-year project, working alongside Essex University and the University of Alberta. Funding of £987k comes from the UK Research and Innovation/Economic and Social Research Council (UKRI/ESRC); the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Researchers will work with industrial partners to understand gender and ethnic bias within HR processes, such as hiring and professional networking, analysing data from across hiring and recruitment platforms and developing new tools and protocols to mitigate and address such bias. The aim is to enable companies, HR departments and recruitment agencies to tackle bias issues in future recruitment.


Alberta native creates robot to help people with dementia

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Hey Mylo the robot was released in Ireland earlier this year to help people living with dementia. "He's a monitoring and comfort robot to allow people with Alzheimer's to stay in their homes for longer and to be as independent as possible," Hey Mylo creator Candace Lafleur said. Mylo can do all sorts of helpful things, such as medication and scheduling reminders. It can even monitor heart rate and call for help if someone falls. The robot responds through a phone app or by voice and touch.


LTTE: It's important to know of weaponized artificial intelligence - The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Editor's Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval. I am writing this essay to bring awareness and recognition to a fast-approaching topic in the field of military technology -- weaponized artificial intelligence. Weaponized AI is any military technology that operates off a computer system that makes its own decisions. Simply put, anything that automatically decides a course of action against an enemy without human control would fall under this definition.


Molecular eraser enables better data storage and computers for AI

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Scientists have added a crucial tool to the atomic-scale manufacturing toolkit with major implications for today's data driven--carbon intensive--world, according to new research from the University of Alberta in Canada. "Computers today are contributing one gigatonne of carbon emissions to the atmosphere, and we can eliminate that by enhancing the most power-hungry parts of conventional computers with our atomic-scale circuitry," said Robert Wolkow, professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Physics a Principal Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada's Nanotechnology Research Centre, and chief technical officer of Quantum Silicon Inc, a spinoff company taking the technology to market. "This new tool better enables an ultra-efficient kind of hybrid computer for the training of neural networks for artificial intelligence." Hydrogen molecules seek out and automatically repair errors in atomic-scale circuitry and can be used to significantly improve the rewriting speeds of atomic data storage. This work builds on the decades-long dedication by Wolkow's research group to realizing the potential for atomic-scale manufacturing, something that has shifted from an idealistic dream to an ever more likely reality in the next few years.


Recommended Reading - Profile: Dustin Morill -- Student Startup Life

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is continuing to break boundaries and researchers at the University of Alberta push this notion further, including PhD student Dustin Morill. Morill, a fourth-year PhD student working with computing science professor Michael Bowling, is working on algorithmic game theory. He is also apart of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) and has been a key contributor to DeepStack, a project seeking to have artificial intelligence develop techniques for games like poker and checkers to continually reassess strategy. The Gateway interviewed Morill who is continuing to contribute to AI research and see what he had to say about the field.


Alzheimer's breakthrough: Two short strings of amino acids could pave the way to new treatments

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Two years after discovering a way to neutralize a rogue protein linked to Alzheimer's disease, University of Alberta Distinguished University Professor and neurologist Jack Jhamandas has found a new piece of the Alzheimer's puzzle, bringing him closer to a treatment for the disease. In a study published in Scientific Reports, Jhamandas and his team found two short peptides, or strings of amino acids, that when injected into mice with Alzheimer's disease daily for five weeks, significantly improved the mice's memory. The treatment also reduced some of the harmful physical changes in the brain that are associated with the disease. "In the mice that received the drugs, we found less amyloid plaque buildup and a reduction in brain inflammation," said Jhamandas, who is also a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. "So this was very interesting and exciting because it showed us that not only was memory being improved in the mice, but signs of brain pathology in Alzheimer's disease were also greatly improved. That was a bit of a surprise for us."


New robotic arm at University of Alberta to help students better understand artificial intelligence

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Students at the University of Alberta are getting hands-on experience with artificial intelligence with a new robotic arm. Donated to the university's department of computing science by Kindred AI, a Canadian-based artificial intelligence company, the use of the robotic arm in the classroom helps students get a sense of reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning is a branch of artificial intelligence, says Rapum Mahmood, assistant professor at the U of A and former Kindred AI research lead. "In reinforcement learning, we study by letting the agent interact with the environment, so that it can take the right set of actions," said Mahmood. Usually, the study is done through computer simulations and board games but in real-world applications, a robotic arm is used.