Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at a Magna International facility in Brampton, Ontario
We just wrapped up a demonstration of some of the advanced manufacturing equipment here at Magna, and for a geek like me, it’s hugely exciting. But I’m also excited to be able to share with you today some more details about an investment we announced in our 2017 budget last week.
As you’ve already heard me say, the budget puts people first by focusing on what they need to feel confident about their future. That’s why it stresses skills acquisition so that Canadians can get the training they need to succeed in a rapidly evolving economy. And that’s why innovation is also at the forefront of this budget. In the coming years, innovation will help create good jobs in emerging industries and transform jobs in established sectors.
That means more well-paying jobs for today’s workers and even brighter opportunities for our children and grandchildren. And one sector where science, innovation, opportunity and employment growth come together is artificial intelligence, and in particular what is known as deep artificial intelligence, or deep learning.
Deep AI, or deep learning, is an area of research that has the potential to truly transform the way we live and work. That’s because artificial intelligence is what’s known as a platform technology. In the same way that electricity revolutionized manufacturing and the microprocessor reinvented how we gather, analyze, and communicate information, artificial intelligence will cut across nearly every industry in Canada. It will shape the world that our kids and our grandkids grow up in. And we can either be a part of that, help steer its direction and take advantage of the good middle class jobs it will create, or we can watch other countries step in. They’ll happily hire our best students and our hardest workers. And why wouldn’t they? We are home to some of the world’s top talent when it comes to artificial intelligence. But we can’t afford to lose that competitive advantage and all the good jobs that come along with it.
But AI is more than just advanced manufacturing and self-driving cars, although those are some of the cooler things it’s doing these days. There are many ways in which deep AI can improve the quality of life of all Canadians. Systems based on this type of research have been proven to be as accurate as trained medical doctors when it comes to identifying some of the most common and most deadly forms of skin cancer, for example. And the potential of AI really comes to light when you consider applications that can be used on mobile devices, literally putting a world of research, centuries of learning and expertise and analysis in your back pocket.
Deep AI sounds futuristic, and it is. But it’s also an area where Canada is recognized as a global leader especially in Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton. Thanks to the work of research scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoff Hinton and Rich Sutton, in many ways Canada can be… Canadians are the pioneers of AI. What we need to do now is make sure that we don’t lose out on the competitive advantage that we already have.
And that’s where last week’s budget comes into play. Last week we announced plans to invest $125 million over the next five years to build and support the deep AI research community here in Canada. That investment will accomplish four key things. First, it will support AI institutes in the three cities where deep AI already has a strong presence, here in the GTA, but also in Edmonton and in Montreal where a strong and vibrant research community has grown to support AI and deep learning; it will encourage more research by establishing deep AI chairs at Canadian universities right across the country; it will support a national training program in deep AI; and, fourth, it will encourage greater collaboration between researchers and the broader communities including taking a critical look at the economic, social and policy implications of deep AI.
Like all areas of scientific research, the quality of the work is determined by the quality of the people who are doing the work. These investments will ensure that Canada is able to recruit, train, and most importantly retain the top tier talent needed to secure Canada’s leadership in deep AI. And in the years to come, we will see this leadership pay dividends in everything from manufacturing improvements, to healthcare breakthroughs, to stronger and more sustained economic and job growth.
Over our 150-year history as a country, Canadians have never shied away from the challenges facing them. Deep artificial intelligence is one such challenge, and I am convinced that by seizing the opportunities that this sector presents, we can build an economy that works for everyone and a better future for both Canada and the rest of the world.