March 23, 2017 6:46 pm
Updated: March 23, 2017 10:39 pm

World-leading artificial intelligence program at University of Alberta gets major boost

WATCH ABOVE: Blueberry the robot shows off his stuff at the University of Alberta's artificial intelligence lab.

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It may not be an obvious place for Hollywood’s next Matrix movie, but the University of Alberta has quietly become a global leader in the artificial intelligence industry.

“Edmonton is actually a leader in artificial intelligence globally,” said Richard Sutton, professor of computing science at the U of A and researcher at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute.

“I think we’re ranked number three in the world in terms of artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Global recognition may have led to a commitment of big bucks from the federal government.

READ MORE: Alberta team granted federal funding to help stop Zika virus

On Wednesday, the Trudeau government announced $125 million in funding for the pan-Canadian AI Strategy. The money will enhance research and recruit talent.

It’s not yet known how much money has been earmarked for the U of A; it will be shared among other institutions in Montreal and Toronto-Waterloo.


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U of A President David Turpin said the multi-million dollar investment will make a real difference for all Canadians.

“The money that comes here to the University of Alberta is going to be used to recruit graduate students, to retain great faculty, to bring in some of the world leaders to interact with the best that are already here.”

Growth is key to keeping home-grown talent in Edmonton. Turpin said over the years it became clear Edmonton was not only a national centre for artificial intelligence, but the world’s best.

“When people do great work, it attracts other people that do great work.”

Watch below: The University of Alberta is a leader in artificial intelligence research. In Wednesday’s federal budget, a big funding boost was announced for that work. Vinesh Pratap takes a look at what’s being done on campus and what it could mean when it comes to jobs of the future.

The Department of Computing Science at the U of A is the oldest computing science department in the country. It’s also one of the largest.

Sutton would like to see Edmonton continue to grow its base in information economy and become akin to silicon valley.

“Canada is punching above its weight in the field of AI and the field of machine learning.”

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