Montreal Becomes Artificial Intelligence Hub
The city of Montreal must be an AI goldmine,as an increasing number of multinationals are choosing it as a hive for artificial intelligence,and Thales SA—who are French industrial giants, have become the latest in the queue.
The company made an announcement that it would open an artificial intelligence research lab in Montreal early next year. Also hinting on a collaboration with Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithm (MILA), with plans to hire an estimated 50 AI scientists by mid 2019.
The research facility, called the Centre of Research and Technology in Artificial Intelligence Expertise (CORTAIX) is centered primarily on creating solutions for airlines, satellite operators, air traffic controllers, rail operators, armed forces, and critical infrastructure managers. Thales confirmed in a statement.
“We want to create new technologies based on AI that we can industrialize in our verticals and sell to the world.”said Siegfried Usal, vice-president of strategy and communications.
Usal said the lab aims to develop AI applications that can be used efficiently by it’s air traffic, airline, satellite rail military, and infrastructure customers.
Philippe Keryer, the executive vice president of strategy, research, and technology said in an interview after his press conference in Montreal, that”Thales would be committing $25 million to the center over the next four to five years.”
Several AI labs already exists in Montreal and Canada in general, as it has become a destination for foreign companies who require artificial intelligence. Facebook Inc. owns an AI research lab in Montreal, and last month, hired the services of a renowned McGill University professor, Joelle Pineau. Alphabet Inc. Google, also has a huge AI presence in both Montreal and Toronto, hiring the services of another AI specialist—DoniaPrecup. Samsung Electronics’ Advance Institute of Technology is also situated in Montreal, with its AI lab at the University of Montreal—launched in August. Microsoft Corporation isn’t left out, as this year alone, they purchased Montreal AI startup— Maluuba, and also proved funds to a local based AI startup, Element AI.
Accordingto Keryer—who cited that AI is a priority in Canada, “The company chose Montreal due to the wealth of scientists, PhD candidates, and universities working in AI. Labour costs in the city are also about 30 per cent lower than in the U.S. and government subsidies makes the city an attractive investment.”
One of the central figures behind the development of the city’s AI-focused institutions, Yoshua Bengio—a pioneer at MILA and the Institute of Data Valorization (IVADO), has said that while the surge of multinationals into the city helps bolster it’s reputation and places Canada as a global AI center, “the negative is that I don’t think that it is by these companies that Canada will emerge as a world leader in AI. Those foreign companies might be doing research here [but] the products are going to be manufactured or sold from elsewhere, and the profits for those products will be taxed in other countries, so it’s not really going to help Canada make the transition that’s probably going to happen in the next decade due to automation and AI.”
“The only way we’ll become a real world leader in this field is if we have enough Canadian companies becoming strong players.”
The AIcentre will be working in conjunction with the Google-backed Vector Institute of Toronto, the Artificial Intelligence Institute of Quebec, and the Institute of Data Valorization.