In Budget 2017, the Government of Canada asked CIFAR to lead the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, a $125-million investment in AI research and innovation in Canada.
The goal of the strategy is to provide deep investment in Canada’s early leadership in machine learning research and training to ensure that we continue to hold our place on the world stage.
AICan 2019 is the first Annual Report of the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy. In the following pages we provide highlights of the past year, focusing on the four pillars of the Strategy. One year in, we are already seeing significant acceleration of AI research in Canada, including the establishment of three new independent research institutes, major expansions of our training programs and increased collaboration with industry. We have also launched CIFAR’s AI & Society Program, which brings together academic researchers, thought leaders and policymakers to examine the social, legal, economic and ethical implications of AI.
None of this would have been possible without the strong partnership and collaboration between CIFAR, Amii, Mila and the Vector Institute. My sincere thanks to all of the staff at each of the four organizations, whose hard work and commitment to the vision of the Strategy has already resulted in advancing Canada’s leadership in AI. Special thanks also to the members of CIFAR’s International Scientific Advisory Committee (page 9), our National Program Committee (page 23) and our AI & Society Advisory Council (page 27), who have generously contributed their time and expertise in this first year of the Strategy to ensure that we are building research capacity and programs that will enable us to reach our goals.
The breadth of activity in AI research in Canada goes far beyond what is covered here. From fundamental research in areas beyond machine learning to the launch of new AI-based startups, researchers, trainees and entrepreneurs from coast to coast are advancing our understanding of machine intelligence and making a difference in the world.
As the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy continues to build and expand, we will be adding many more activities to bring the community together and maintain Canada’s position as a world leader in AI research and innovation. We were thrilled to host our first annual AICan meeting in Montreal in December 2018. At AICan, we announced our first cohort of 29 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs. In spring 2019, we will name additional CCAI Chairs, bringing the Program total to 46, with more to come later in the year (page 10). We will also launch a call for proposals for AI workshops and training programs in the months ahead.
The success of Canada’s national AI strategy rests on two fundamental components: people and partnerships. This report showcases some of the amazing researchers and leaders from across our AI ecosystem, who believe deeply in the opportunity that AI has to make a real difference in people’s lives around the world. The only way that we will fully realize that opportunity is by working together, and that is why partnerships between government, academia and industry, as demonstrated across the CIFAR Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, will be the key to our success.