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$150 Million Artificial Intelligence Institute Backed By Canadian Government And Businesses Groups

$150 Million Artificial Intelligence Institute Backed By Canadian Government And Businesses Groups
With the intention to fund an artificial intelligence institute at the University of Toronto, about C$200 million ($150 million) is being arranged for by the Canadian and Ontario governments who have teamed up with a group of businesses, project organizers said.
With the significant potential to transform industries from healthcare and manufacturing to financial services, artificial intelligence, widely known as AI, has been touted as an emerging technology for many industries. And in addition to industries and companies including banks and manufacturers, Silicon Valley companies like Alphabet Inc's Google and Facebook are getting attracted to invest in AI research due to such high hopes for impacting numerous industries.
Ed Clark, who will head the institute, said that large numbers of masters, doctoral and postdoctoral AI scientists who are needed by Canadian industry would potentially be trained at the center which will be known as the Vector Institute.
Clark, a former chief executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank, told in an interview ahead of a government announcement this week about the new center that it will also support research projects with potential to move from the laboratory to commercial success.
"Clearly, the giants in Silicon Valley are going to be major players in this. But that doesn't mean that we can't find things and areas where we end up being best in the class," said Clark, now a business adviser to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Clark serves on the board of directors of Thomson Reuters, the parent of Reuters News.
Organizers said that the federal and Ontario governments would account for the majority of the financial commitment for the institute.
In its budget last week, a huge sum of C$125 million was committed for the development of the AI industry in Canada by the federal government. On the other hand, a total commitment of C$5 million to the Vector Institute has been made by Google, a Toronto-based spokesman for the company said.
The institute's chief scientific adviser would be Geoffrey Hinton, an AI scholar known for his work with neural networks.
"This initiative came from the industry. They all know they need to have lots of very skilled people. This is a very fast-moving field and you want the people to be educated by people doing basic research," Hinton said.
Large corporations would be encouraged to expand their research labs to Canada by the government support for AI research and training there,, he said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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