The so-called'Godfather of Deep Learning' Geoffrey Hinton has been appointed as a Companion of the Order of Canada. In a statement, Governor General Julie Payette said she appointed Hinton as a result of his contributions to artificial intelligence, "as a computer scientist and specialist in cognitive psychology." Hinton also holds a Canada Research Chair in machine learning, and is an advisor at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Hinton was born in Wimbledon, London, and holds a bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge, as well as a PhD in artificial intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. Following stints at institutions like the University of California, San Diego and Carnegie Mellon University, Hinton moved to Canada partly due to his disappointment with U.S. politics.
In science news around the world, China's largest research funding agency expresses support for the goals of Plan S, the push by European science funders for immediate open access to research publications. For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are projected to hit a new high, growing 2.7% this year. NASA's Voyager 2 probe becomes only the second humanmade object to enter interstellar space. Empathy expert Tania Singer resigns as director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, after a commission confirmed allegations of bullying. Dozens of African researchers are denied visas for an artificial intelligence (AI) meeting in Montreal, Canada, even as the Canadian government takes steps to advance the country's standing in AI.
On Thursday in Montreal, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau boasted about his country's leading position in artificial intelligence and openness to international collaboration. A few miles away, the world's largest AI conference proceeded without scores of researchers denied visas by Trudeau's government. All week, Montreal has played host to 8,000 people attending the NeurIPS conference, which ends Saturday. But well over 100 researchers with tickets to attend the event or its associated workshops, including many who planned to present work, are absent due to visa denials or delays. AI researchers say the visa problems undermine efforts to make their field more inclusive, and less likely to produce technology that discriminates or disadvantages people who aren't white or Western.
The AI revolution is coming, and both Canada and France want to make sure we're approaching it responsibly. Today, the countries announced plans for the International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI), a platform to discuss "responsible adoption of AI that is human-centric and grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation and economic growth," according to a mandate from the office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It's still unclear which other countries will be participating, but Mounir Mahjoubi, France's secretary of state for digital affairs, says it'll include both G7 and EU countries, Technology Review reports. It won't just be politicians joining the conversation. France and Canada plan to get the scientific community involved, as well as industry and civil society experts.
In 1988, the US and other nations formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to study and respond to consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. In Montreal Thursday, the governments of France and Canada said they will establish a similar group to study and respond to the global changes being wrought by artificial intelligence technology. They say the panel is needed to rein in unethical uses of AI, and minimize the risk of economic disruption such as job losses caused by automation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans for the International Panel on Artificial Intelligence with the French minister for digital affairs, Mounir Mahjoubi. Trudeau has launched several programs to advance Canadian investment in AI in recent years, and said he also wants to lead in considering the technology's potential downsides.
A number of researchers due to attend a prestigious conference on artificial intelligence in Canada next week have been unable to obtain visas in time, leading some executives to question the government's stated goal of becoming a world-leading destination for academics and companies developing the technology. It's unclear how many people have been affected by visa issues, but at least a dozen researchers circulated their stories on social media about having visas denied or applications held up. Timnit Gebru, a Google AI researcher and a founder of the group Black in AI that's holding a workshop at the event, said on Twitter that almost half of the 60-some academics it had asked to attend the workshop had visa applications turned down. "It's Africans living everywhere that are getting denied," she said. Several prominent AI researchers complained of the situation on Twitter in the hopes of getting the Canadian government to take action.
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.
Montreal is one of the world's leading centres for artificial intelligence research – and that reputation is now having a big impact on its startup community. According to PwC Canada, the city raised more venture capital money than any other in the country in 2017, with US$800 million (£616m) invested across 63 major deals. That's still small fry compared to rival startup cities in the US and across Europe, but Montreal is growing fast. Attracted by its reputation for ground breaking AI research, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have invested heavily in the city's academic and entrepreneurial communities in recent years. The Canadian government has also pledged more than $200 million (£118m) of funding to further boost Montreal's AI research.
The Deep Learning Summit is returning to Toronto from October 25 – 26, 2018 and will cover the latest advancements in deep learning technology. Global leaders in the field will address how industry leaders and start-ups are applying deep learning techniques across industry and society. The first ever AI for Government Summit, another event stream, will provide a unique opportunity to interact with government bodies, policymakers, strategists and directors of innovation to explore the use of machine learning to increase efficiency, reduce costs and meet the high demands of the public sector. What's more, the Canadian Government have committed over $125 million to AI developments. Headline partners include Accenture, Qualcomm, Graphcore AI and CBC/Radio Canada who will all be sharing their expertise in the field, participating in workshops, discussions, presentations, demonstrations and exhibitions.
A New York City-based firm that develops a "digital colleague" named Amelia is the first to state interest in providing artificial intelligence services to the Government of Canada. A tender notice posted by Public Works and Government Services Canada on Saturday morning is the most recent step taken by the government towards acquiring AI services. Its purpose is to create a pre-qualified list of suppliers that will deliver AI services towards several key areas where the government believes it has the most to gain from the technology. IPsoft Canada is the first to be listed as an interested supplier. Its Amelia AI system that promises to handle customer service requests without the need for human intervention.