Artificial intelligence with quasi-human capabilities – that’s no longer the stuff of science fiction in Montréal. A $4.5 million dollar grant from Google for the Montréal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) will help tackle some of the biggest challenges in machine learning and AI, including the realm of systems that can understand and generate natural language.
The tech giant is expanding its academic support of deep learning at MILA, renewing the Focused Research Award for University of Montréal professor and head of MILA Yoshua Bengio, who is credited for putting Montréal ahead of its competitors in AI research.
Google is also offering research awards to MILA faculty at University of Montréal and McGill University. “This kind of corporate investment paired with a burgeoning AI start-up community and substantial government funding for the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO) hub for data science, deep learning and operations research has turned Montréal into a global machine intelligence powerhouse,” says Shibl Mourad, Head of Engineering, Google Montréal.
The company hopes to help transform the city into a super-cluster of AI knowledge that will attract corporate investors, startups and researchers. University of Montréal and McGill together now count more than 150 researchers in deep learning, the greatest academic concentration in the world.
Google opens its own AI research group in Montréal
In addition to this grant, Google is opening a deep learning and AI research group in its Montreal office, linked to the Google Brain team in Mountain View, California. It will be led by Montrealer Hugo Larochelle, a leader within the deep learning community, who is returning from Boston to Montréal.