News / Edmonton

Edmonton to share feds' artificial intelligence $125M budget boost

The University is Alberta is already ranked Canada's top player for AI and deep learning. Wednesday's federal budget pledges $125 million to the Canadian sector

A self-driving car is tested on the road in Pittsburgh by Uber employees in this Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, file photo.

AP Photo/Jared Wickerham, File

A self-driving car is tested on the road in Pittsburgh by Uber employees in this Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, file photo.

Get ready for more “deep learning” coming out of the University of Alberta, sci-fi fans.

Wednesday's federal budget pledges $125 million to the Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) sector — with the federal government name-dropping Edmonton, Toronto, Waterloo and Montreal, home to some of the world’s top AI research centres.

The government’s new Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy announced in the budget is meant to “promote collaboration between Canada’s main centres of expertise,” according to the fiscal plan.

“World class expertise at Canadian universities has helped propel Canada to a position as leader in artificial intelligence and deep learning research and use,” the budget document stated. “Canadian talent and ideas are in high demand around the world—but activity needs to remain in Canada to harness the benefits from artificial intelligence.”

The University is Alberta is already ranked Canada's top player for AI and deep learning, according to the Computer Science Rankings, reaching eighth on the annual survey’s global list.

The university is host to robots winning at complicated board games, as well as the Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning and the Reinforcement Learning and Artificial Intelligence. It’s also paving the way with research into self-driving cars, which got their own shout-out from Ottawa on Wednesday.

“From smartphone applications that can understand human speech to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence is changing the way that people interact with each other and our world,” the budget added.

The government touted its $125-million fund as a way to “retain and attract top academic talent, and to increase the number of post-graduate trainees and researchers studying artificial intelligence and deep learning.”

But despite being Canada’s top city in the AI and deep learning field, according to the rankings, Edmonton got passed up for Toronto’s Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) in who will be in charge of disbursing the new money.

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