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April 2019  | ISSUE No. 01 

In this issue:
Features | AI Chair Spotlight | AI Across Canada | Pan-Canadian AI News | News & Announcements | Events & Deadlines



CIFAR expands Canada CIFAR AI Chairs Program to 46 researchers

As part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, CIFAR is pleased to announce an expansion of the Canada CIFAR AI Chairs program, bringing the total number of chairs to 46, from 29 announced in December 2018. The Canada CIFAR AI Chairs program provides researchers with long-term, dedicated research funding to support their research programs and help them to train the next generation of AI leaders. The 46 Chairs are named in partnership with Canada’s three centres of AI excellence: Amii (Edmonton), Mila (Quebec) and Vector Institute (Toronto), as well as twelve universities and hospitals across the country.


CIFAR launches the AICan 2019 Annual Report

CIFAR is proud to launch its first annual report on the progress of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, a $125-million AI strategy that the Government of Canada appointed CIFAR to lead in March 2017. The report, available in both French and English, showcases our achievements so far.




Understanding Intelligence with CCAI Chair Blake Richards

Blake Richards is a Canada CIFAR AI Chair and a faculty member at Mila and McGill University using artificial intelligence to better understand how the human brain learns and processes memories. “Considering how hard it is to program a computer to behave intelligently, and the fact that billions of humans are remarkably intelligent makes the intersection of neuroscience and AI quite magical,” says Blake Richards.



Inaugural Summer Institute explores societal impacts of artificial intelligence

The Summer Institute on AI & Society brings together experts, grad students and researchers from multiple backgrounds through a combination of lectures, panels and more, to build understanding and action around the implications of AI. The Summer Institute takes place July 22-24, 2019 in Edmonton, Canada. Originally the brainchild of CCAI Chair and Amii Fellow Alona Fyshe, the event is co-sponsored by CIFAR and the AI PULSE Program at UCLA School of Law.


Betting on Artificial Intelligence to translate books

A world first: 800-page scientific book translated entirely by computer
For the first time ever, a team of experts has translated a complex scientific work using a deep learning-based machine translation tool. The feat was achieved in just two and a half months using software developed by European companies Quantmetry and DeepL. The tool took only 12 hours to translate, with unprecedented accuracy, the 800-page reference book Deep Learning by Yoshua Bengio, Aaron Courville and Ian Goodfellow. Following a “human” revision over a period of 10 weeks, the book was ready for publication.


World’s AI elite to gather in Montreal

More than 2000 participants are expected to gather in Montreal this month. The city will host the first-ever World Summit AI Americas, taking place on April 10 and 11 at the splendid St-James Theatre. The event will include 60 distinguished speakers, including leading figures such as Yoshua Bengio (Founder and Scientific Director of Mila and Université de Montréal), Marc G. Bellemare (Google Brain and Mila), Kay Firth-Butterfield (World Economic Forum), Hassan Sawaf (Amazon Web Services) and more.


Researchers and professionals from coast to coast descend on Toronto for first Vector Institute Research Symposium and Job Fair

On Friday, February 22, 2019, the Vector Institute held its first-ever Research Symposium and Job Fair. The event showcased top research produced by Vector researchers over the last year. The event was an opportunity for master’s students, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the fields of machine learning and AI to connect with Vector’s industry and health partners and to discover a wide range of internship and career opportunities. The event had representatives from 20 Vector Industry Sponsors and health partners and over 300 attendees.


Vector Institute welcomes new Postgraduate Affiliates to its growing research community

The 2019 Vector Postgraduate Affiliates Program fosters collaboration among students and researchers. The program represents a cross-section of strengths at different Ontario universities and institutions, and includes master’s students, PhD students and post-doctoral fellows pursuing novel research applications in deep learning or machine learning. The acceptance rate for the 2019 program was 8.6 per cent, demonstrating the high caliber of researchers within the incoming cohort.



AI & Society

CIFAR has kicked off its first round of AI & Society Workshops beginning with Indigenous Protocol & AI in March. Indigenous Protocol & AI is the first of four AI & Society Workshops running this spring/summer. Supported and administered by CIFAR, the AI & Society workshops provide funding and support to bring together new, interdisciplinary research teams to explore the ethical, social, legal and economic potential impacts of AI developments and an associated research agenda. Indigenous Protocol & AI is the first workshop in this series and is led by Jason Edward Lewis, Concordia University. Indigenous Protocol & AI aims to broaden the discussion about the role of technology in society and how conversations around AI can be informed by indigenous knowledge and culture. Other workshops include Generation AI, AI-Powered Information Ecosystems and Democracy, and Regulation of Defense and Security AI Technologies. Find more information here.

CIFAR hosts AI For Good workshop with key Canadian AI leaders

CIFAR hosted the AI For Good workshop on April 1 to bring together Canadian thought leaders committed to creating and fostering diversity in AI and AI for good. The workshop brought together leaders from AI For Good Summer Lab (Université de Montréal, McGill University, Mila, IVADO), Policy and Data Science Program (McGill University), Invent the Future/AI For All (Simon Fraser University), Data Science for Social Good (University of British Columbia) and Summer Institute on AI & Society (CIFAR, UCLA AI PULSE, Amii).


Bengio, LeCun and Hinton win “Nobel Prize of Computing” ACM A.M. Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery named CIFAR Program in Learning in Machines & Brains co-directors Yoshua Bengio and Yann LeCun and CIFAR distinguished fellow Geoffrey Hinton recipients of the 2018 ACM A.M Turing Award on March 27, for conceptual and engineering breakthroughs that have made deep neural networks a critical component of computing. Bengio (Professor at Université de Montréal and Scientific Director, Mila, Canada CIFAR AI Chair), LeCun (Professor, New York University; VP and Chief AI Scientist, Facebook) and Hinton (VP & Engineering Fellow, Google; Chief Scientific Advisor, Vector Institute; Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto) are commonly referred to as the ‘pioneers of AI,’ and continue to have a strong role at CIFAR and in AI research.


Borealis AI announces 2018 Fellowship Awards

Borealis AI announced its 2018-2019 Graduate Fellowship Winners. The Fellowships were awarded to exceptional students pursuing graduate-level studies in machine learning and artificial intelligence at top universities across Canada. The ten finalists come from University of Alberta, Université de Montréal, McGill University, University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo.


Landmark $100 million gift to the University of Toronto to support AI

The University of Toronto will receive $100 million to support the soon-to-be Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre, a 750,000-square-foot complex designed to support AI innovation at the university. The centre will accelerate innovation in Toronto and Canada by creating the country’s largest university-based innovation node. The $100-million investment is the largest donation in U of T’s history. The donation was made by entrepreneurs and business leaders, Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman.



  • World AI Summit Americas, April 10-11, Montreal, Quebec
    World Summit AI brings together an exclusive gathering of the major AI players, 1000 delegates and 60 industry-disrupting AI brains as speakers, for two days of mind-boggling innovation, heated discussions on AI ethics and AI4good, applied solutions for enterprise, hands-on workshops, knowledge sharing, networking and entertainment.

  • AI Ethics & Society, May 8-10, Edmonton, Alberta
    Hosted by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) and the University of Alberta, this event brings together interdisciplinary and intersectoral researchers in history, ethics, policy, business and science of AI with stakeholders from business and government. The goal of the conference is to mobilize knowledge around the social and ethical impact of AI in a fashion that encourages open and safe innovation beneficial to all Canadians.

  • Collision, May 20-23, Toronto, Ontario
    Collision is the fastest growing tech conference in North America. It its fifth year, Collision has become a crossroads for the world’s largest buyers and sellers of technology, alongside many of the world’s most disruptive emerging technology companies.

  • C2 Montreal, May 22-24, Montreal, Quebec
    C2 brings together creativity and commerce to explore trends, opportunities, disruptions and major shifts on the horizon. More than 6,500 decision makers and creative minds unite to collectively shape, experience and challenge the future of business.
  • Canadian AI, May 28-31, Kingston, Ontario
    Canadian AI 2019 is the 32nd Canadian Conference on Artificial Intelligence. The event will bring together hundreds of leaders in research, industry and government, as well as Canada’s most accomplished students.

Contact Krista Davidson to submit news and events to the AICan Bulletin.

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