Canada plans to set up an AI hub

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Canada wants to be an artificial-intelligence hotbed.

Don Walker, chief executive of Canadian carparts giant Magna International, hosted a number of the country’s leading executives, scientists and politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at his summer home last July to mull ways Canada could move past its reliance on natural-resource exports. Artificial intelligence was at the top of the list, according to several attendees.

We are already living in a world infused with AI, from music and movie recommendation services, to driver assistance systems in cars, to virtual personal assistants in our phone or in our home. Over the past few years, the pace of technological innovation and exploration of AI has increased exponentially, with futuristic ideas such as self-driving cars becoming tangible products of today.

As a result, the Canadian government is said to dedicate $C125 million ($123 million) in funding toward developing AI in Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton — cities with top universities.

The goal is to ensure Canada can compete with countries like the US and China as the push to commercialise AI ramps up and the race to hire artificial-intelligence experts becomes increasingly competitive worldwide. Already, the efforts are luring venture-capitalists from the US.

AI is expected to have a global economic impact topping billions of dollars as it moves into industries like transportation, healthcare, financial services and cybersecurity.

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