AI community in Canada losing interest to the US?

December 17, 2015 11:00 am
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This article in The Globe and Mail describes how Canada may be losing its relatively strong AI community to the US.

In the past, Canada has developed many top AI algorithms and tools. For example, Canadian AI technology is used in Facebook’s facial recognition algorithms, Google’s Photos app, Japanese robots, and voice recognition in smartphones. The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in Toronto was seen as a nucleus in the growth of Canada’s AI sector. However, many are concerned that Canada is now losing its top talents to Silicon Valley. The country has suffered losses of academics including Kevin Murphy, Nando de Freitas and Ruslan Salakhutdinov, and of start-ups including DNNResearch (founded by Geoffrey Hinton) and Whetlab. Ajay Agrawal, a professor at the University of Toronto, states “we are losing our top talent, the talent at every level. While we had that advantage, it is slipping through our fingers.”

Loyal members of the Canadian AI community are still expanding and deepening their presence in Canada. An example is the startup called Maluuba, which creates technology that helps computers talk, and is opening a new office in Montreal. Another startup,, is developing AI for financial industry, and has decided to base itself in Toronto. Meanwhile, the University of Toronto is launching an AI research dedicated program.

Despite the strength of the Canadian AI community, Yoshua Bengio, a professor at the University of Montreal, still feels that Canada is losing its best AI minds. He states “I think it’s important that people in the governments get together and make it attractive to stay here in Canada.”

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This post was written by Annie Cui