Tech in T.O.: Why Geoffrey Hinton, the ‘Godfather of A.I.,’ decided to live in Toronto

Click to play video: 'Tech in T.O.: Geoffrey Hinton explains why he chose to settle in Toronto'
Tech in T.O.: Geoffrey Hinton explains why he chose to settle in Toronto
WATCH ABOVE: World-renowned artificial intelligence researcher Geoffrey Hinton moved to Canada decades ago and explains why he chose to settle in Toronto – Oct 8, 2019

This is the fourth of a 10-part series on Toronto’s technology community

Geoffrey Hinton is one of the most recognized leaders in computing science and artificial intelligence (A.I.), and his contribution technology industry in Toronto has drawn other tech leaders to the city.

Hinton studied in United Kingdon, earning a bachelor of arts in experimental psychology from Cambridge University in 1970, and completed his PhD in artificial intellegence at the University of Edinburgh. In 1987, Hinton moved to Canada.

The A.I. expert spoke with Global News anchor Farah Nasser as part of #TechInTO and he said part of the reason he came Canada was because of the society.

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“I came to Canada because I like the society here and because they have very good funding for basic research. It’s not very much money, but they give it for basic curiosity driven research as opposed to big applications,” he said.

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While living in Toronto, Hinton became a professor at University of Toronto. He is also vice-president and engineering fellow at Google, where he leads Brain Team Toronto.

Hinton is one of the founders of Toronto’s Vector Institute, an independent corporation where research is conducted in the field of artificial intelligence.

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“Geoffrey Hinton is the most cited researcher in all of computing science and all of artificial intelligence, but there are other researchers here that are incredibly world renowned for the field of artificial intelligence,” said Cameron Schuler, chief commercialization officer and vice president of industry innovation at the Vector Institute.

“The things that are actually driving the industry today are things Geoff created back in the [1980s]. It really took a long time for the hardware and the availability of data to actually catch up.”

In 2018, Hinton was granted the Order of Canada and in 2019, he was also awarded the ACM A.M. Turing Award, foundational research in deep learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence.

Hinton said while Canada’s investments in artificial intelligence have been valuable, the country must continue to fund research.

Click to play video: 'EXTENDED: Interview with Geoffrey Hinton'
EXTENDED: Interview with Geoffrey Hinton

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“China is putting in about $10 billion and the U.S. is putting in many billions mostly from companies, and Canada is putting in half a billion but it needs to keep putting it in. It can’t just do it once and think, ‘OK, we’ve done it for A.I.’ It’s going to fall behind unless [the country] sustains it,” he said, adding artificial intelligence has the ability help different industries.
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“What’s going to happen is A.I. is going to help with sorts of jobs, making the jobs easier. If you are a radiologist for example and you are trying to interpret images, A.I. will help you interpret those images and save you a lot of training. A.I. won’t take away the bit when you deal with people. It’s going to be a long before A.I. can be empathetic towards people in a genuine way.”

— With files from The Canadian Press.

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