February 13, 2019 4:20 pm
Updated: February 13, 2019 4:22 pm

Alberta announces $100M, 5-year investment in artificial intelligence

July 6, 2017: A prominent artificial intelligence firm is opening its first lab outside of the United Kingdom and it's going to be in Edmonton. Emily Mertz has the details.

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The Alberta government plans to spend $100 million over five years to attract investment from artificial intelligence-focused tech companies.

The money will go to Alberta Innovates, the province’s research development agency, and the non-profit Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute.

Some of the initial funds will go toward helping Edmonton-based Amii expand into a new office in Calgary.

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Premier Rachel Notley says the spending is in addition to the $50 million announced last spring for 3,000 new high-tech post-secondary training spots.

READ MORE: Alberta spends $50 million to boost enrolment in technical education

She says it’s part of an effort to diversify the provincial economy beyond oil and gas extraction.

Notley says her government is also planning a major marketing campaign to show that Alberta can be a global hub for artificial intelligence technology.

READ MORE: Alberta tech sector leads the way as economy rebounds, says BDC study

“Without investment, we are at a significant risk of losing our competitive advantage.

“Without a long-term commitment and a plan for a diversified future, Alberta could easily be bypassed by the Ontarios and the Quebecs of the world, that’s not a thing we want to see happen,” Notley said in Calgary Wednesday.

“We know that those governments have been actively seeking investment for Toronto and Montreal. And to the south, they are also actively seeking investment in the Silicon Valley, MIT and Stanford. Companies will invest in places where growth is possible and success is rewarded.”

READ MORE: Prominent artificial intelligence firm to open 1st lab outside UK in Edmonton

Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates, said artificial intelligence can help lead to better decision making, problem solving and efficiency in a variety of sectors, including health care, transport and agriculture.

“Our future is like the old days of electricity over a century ago. No one quite knew what to do with it and what can we do without it today,” she said.

“No one quite knows what to do completely with artificial intelligence and I challenge you — soon you won’t know what to do without it.”

WATCH BELOW (March 23, 2017): 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.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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