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Discover Calgary’s thriving data science scene during the inaugural YYC Data Con

Click to play video: 'Discover Calgary’s thriving data scene during the inaugural YYC Data Con' Discover Calgary’s thriving data scene during the inaugural YYC Data Con
Local data and AI professionals, students and enthusiasts will come together March 12-13, 2021, to highlight the tech accomplishments and opportunities in our community. Ben Reeves joins Global News Calgary to explain – Mar 6, 2021

A group of data science analysts and enthusiasts are coming together to highlight the achievements and opportunities in artificial intelligence in Calgary with a convention from March 12 to 13.

‘Talent pipelines’

Ben Reeves with YYC Data Con said people often incorrectly assume that “all of the action in artificial intelligence” is happening far away, like in Silicon Valley.

“We’ve got a thriving data science team here locally in Calgary. We’ve got Grade A institutions, which are offering programs and training in AI technologies. We have the talent pipelines through programs like the AltaML Applied AI Lab, which helps to bring this expertise to industry,” he told Global News on Saturday.

Read more: COMMENTARY: The infrastructures that support a future of artificial intelligence

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“We’ve got a tapestry of communities where we all meet to share ideas and experiences and talk about what’s happening in the field. Of course, we have the hubs where entrepreneurs, software developers and AI experts all come together to build the future of Calgary’s data economy together.”

Click to play video: 'Photos come to life using artificial intelligence' Photos come to life using artificial intelligence
Photos come to life using artificial intelligence – Mar 3, 2021

‘Evolution of an ecosystem’

The data event, featuring 20 experts, is about “community and the evolution of an ecosystem,” Reeves explained.

“Just a few years ago, the Calgary data ecosystem was a fractured place with different communities all competing for attention. But as we started to communicate and come together, we saw an opportunity that we could actually build a stronger Calgary together,” he said.

“We saw that there was a need for a professional and a social gathering point where we could lift each other up and share in some of the experiences that we had and showcase really how Alberta’s at the tip of the sword in the AI ecosystem. Out of that shared vision, the YYC Data Con was created and this was bootstrapped by the community for the community in a way that’s open to all.”

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Artificial intelligence is all around us. Getty Images

You’re probably using an AI system several times before you’ve even finished drinking your morning coffee, Reeves said.

“Every time you scroll through Instagram or TikTok, there is an algorithm that’s trying to decide what to show you next,” he explained.

“Whenever you ask Alexa to put on some music, that’s an AI system that’s processing and understanding that request.”

Diagnosing patients faster, more accurately

There are less obvious ways we interact with AI.

“For instance, local Calgary firms like AltaML have built an algorithm that scans medical images and figures out how to identify the most important areas of a cell biopsy. Technology like that is helping doctors to diagnose patients faster and more accurately, ensuring that Alberta stays at the top of the health-care industry,” Reeves said.

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Read more: COMMENTARY: How robotics are changing jobs in Canada

“Financial services firms are able to analyze some of your trading patterns, and whether or not you’re going to buy one more share of GameStop, and using that to predict how likely you are to stick with the platform or to move to a different provider.”

AI can play a huge role in helping us see things more easily.

“In our industrial systems, AI systems are at work monitoring the integrity of our infrastructure and really keeping us safe,” Reeves said.

“We’ve got these smart networks [that] are able to 24-7 monitor our industrial plants and spot any corrosion or damages to pipes and valves, and find those before they actually become a problem and before it causes a safety incident or a loss of operational efficiency.”
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