New institute aims to make Toronto an ‘intellectual centre’ of AI capability

New institute aims to make Toronto an

  • Geoffrey Hinton, who has worked for Google primarily in California since 2013, will soon be working permanently out of the tech giant’s Toronto offices and will be the Vector Institute’s chief scientific adviser.
  • (Noah Berger / Associated Press file photo)  By Kate AllenScience and Technology reporterTues., March 28, 2017Toronto will host a new institute devoted to artificial intelligence, a major gambit to bolster a field of research pioneered in Canada but consistently drained of talent by major U.S. technology companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft.The Vector Institute, an independent non-profit affiliated with the University of Toronto, will hire about 25 new faculty and research scientists.
  • More than two dozen companies have committed millions more over 10 years, including $5 million each from sponsors including Google, Air Canada, Loblaws, and Canada’s five biggest banks.The mode of artificial intelligence that the Vector Institute will focus on, deep learning, has seen remarkable results in recent years, particularly in image and speech recognition.
  • Geoffrey Hinton, considered the “godfather” of deep learning for the breakthroughs he made while a professor at U of T, has worked for Google since 2013 in California and Toronto.Hinton will move back to Canada to lead a research team based at the tech giant’s Toronto offices and act as chief scientific adviser of the new institute.
  • Academic institutions and startups in Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal and Edmonton boast leaders in the field, but other researchers have left for U.S. universities and corporate labs.The goals of the Vector Institute are to retain, repatriate and attract AI talent, to create more trained experts, and to feed that expertise into existing Canadian companies and startups.

Large companies including Google and Air Canada are sponsoring the Vector Institute, which intends to retain and repatriate the AI talent Canada is already producing.
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