TORONTO, March 28 The Canadian and Ontario
governments plan to team up with a group of businesses to invest
about C$200 million ($150 million) to fund an artificial
intelligence institute at the University of Toronto, project
organizers said on Tuesday.
Artificial intelligence, widely known as AI, has been touted
as an emerging technology with potential to transform industries
from healthcare and manufacturing to financial services. Those
hopes have attracted Silicon Valley companies like Alphabet
Inc's Google and Facebook, as well as banks and
manufacturers to invest in AI research.
The center, to be known as the Vector Institute, will train
large numbers of masters, doctoral and postdoctoral AI
scientists who are needed by Canadian industry, said Ed Clark,
who will head the institute.
It will also support research projects with potential to
move from the laboratory to commercial success, Clark, a former
chief executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank, told Reuters
in an interview ahead of a government announcement this week
about the new center.
"Clearly, the giants in Silicon Valley are going to be major
players in this. But that doesn't mean that we can't find things
and areas where we end up being best in the class," said Clark,
now a business adviser to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Clark serves on the board of directors of Thomson Reuters
, the parent of Reuters News.
A majority of the financial commitment will come from the
federal and Ontario governments, organizers said. They did not
specify when the institute would begin operation.
The federal government committed C$125 million to develop AI
industry in its budget last week. A Toronto-based Google
spokesman said the company had committed C$5 million to the
Geoffrey Hinton, an AI scholar known for his work with
neural networks, will be the institute's chief scientific
"This initiative came from the industry. They all know they
need to have lots of very skilled people. This is a very
fast-moving field and you want the people to be educated by
people doing basic research," Hinton said.
He said that government support for AI research and training
would encourage large corporations to expand their research labs
($1 = 1.3378 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Jim Finkle and Peter