The first genuinely impressive AI assistant may well have a Canadian accent. Facebook announced today that it is tapping into Canada's impressive supply of artificial-intelligence talent and expertise by creating a major AI research center in Montreal. Several big recent advances in AI can be traced back to Canadian research labs, and Facebook is hoping that the new lab may help it take advantage of whatever comes next. The new center will focus, in particular, on an area of AI known as reinforcement learning (see "10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017: Reinforcement Learning"). The center will seek to apply this and other novel approaches to language, with the aim of producing more coherent and useful virtual assistants, says Yann LeCun, director of AI research at Facebook.
TORONTO, March 22, 2017 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is funding a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy for research and talent that will cement Canada's position as a world leader in AI. The $125 million strategy will attract and retain top academic talent in Canada, increase the number of post-graduate trainees and researchers studying artificial intelligence, and promote collaboration between Canada's main centres of expertise in Montreal, Toronto-Waterloo and Edmonton. The program will be administered through CIFAR, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The new program was announced in the federal budget released on Wednesday. "The Canadian government clearly recognizes the importance of artificial intelligence as a platform technology that cuts across many areas of innovation today," says Dr. Alan Bernstein, President and CEO of CIFAR.
Great White North is on the top of that list. Because of its powerful academic research labs, Toronto has supplied a lot of talent in the field but has been experiencing a brain drain. As an effort to retain talent and make Toronto a global supplier of AI capability, the University of Toronto gathered a team of globally renowned researchers and founded the Vector Institute. The independent, non-profit AI research institution has created a lot of buzz and attracted a great deal of funding to its ongoing projects. With a combination of research and commercial goals, according to The Toronto Star, It will be backed by more than $150 million in public and corporate funding.