Canadian Artificial Intelligence News - December 2021

Updated: Jan 4

Welcome to the monthly Ask AI news roundup where we highlight the latest innovations, investments, and breakthroughs in the Canadian artificial intelligence sector. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to our podcast and monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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Ask AI news roundup for December 2021

ENVIRONMENT & CLEANTECH


TEAM CHECK-IN: Learn how the Life Cycle Management Lab at UBC Okanagan is exploring how AI/ML can help to mitigate catastrophic oil spills.


TEAM CHECK-IN: Discover what the Digital Innovation in Clean Energy (DICE) team at Alberta Innovates is doing to support cleantech development.


INTERVIEW - Learn how AI can help make a positive impact in carbon-intensive industries from our interview with Mark Speaker, the Industry Solutions Executive for Microsoft Canada.


SOCIAL & GOVERNANCE


TORONTO - Despite previous denials, it has been reported that Toronto police used Clearview AI facial recognition software to try to identify suspects, victims, and witnesses in 84 criminal investigations. According to Brenda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association; "When you're enforcing the law, your first obligation is to comply with it" Full story


CANADA - The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, the Korea AI Ethics Association, and Chung-Ang University have collaborated on the report Talent for the Future: AI Education for K-12 in Canada and South Korea, providing an overview of AI education for K-12 students in Canada and South Korea. Full story


ALBERTA - Computer scientists and statisticians are starting to create synthetic healthcare datasets to help ease privacy concerns. According to Dean Eurich, a professor in the school of public health at the University of Alberta, “As a researcher, I can access data through the various agreements that are in place for universities to work with governments and other agencies, but that’s where the relationship ends, it ends with me.” Researchers cannot share data with students or collaborators outside their university, unless they’re part of the project. Full story


ALBERTA - The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) has publshed a series of short talks posted by Fellows and Canada CIFAR AI Chairs discussing their areas of research and how each relates to the field of video games. Watch the videos


ALBERTA - In a first of its kind, a new series of micro-crednetialed online courses at Athabasca University will offer training in the skills needed to address the ethical development of artificial intelligence systems. "AI ethics is an umbrella term that's come to encompass all the different ways in which AI can create harm," said Katrina Ingram, the CEO of Ethically Aligned AI, who helped develop the course. View course website


AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES


HALIFAX - Canada's Food Price Report 2022 predicts a 5% to 7% increase in food cost. The report, which uses historical data sources, machine learning algorithms, and predictive analytics tools was released by research partners Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of British Columbia. "It's important for consumers to understand that food prices have been going up for some time, and there's no turning back," said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, project lead and Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. Full story


HEALTHCARE & PHARMA


INTERVIEW: Check out the Ask AI interview with Lawrence Richer, Vice-Dean, Clinical Research University of Alberta.


TORONTO - Canada's ministries of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the department of Mental Health and Addictions announced an investment of $1.2 million in Toronto-based Validere Technologies through Sustainable Development Technology Canada to commercialize its AI-powered ESG Hub platform that helps oil and gas companies minimize their carbon footprint. Full story


VANCOUVER - Variational AI, the developer of generative AI technology for drug development has announced a new partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and adMare BioInnovations to develop a novel SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease (3CLpro) inhibitor. According to Handol Kim, co-founder and CEO “As society continues to grapple with COVID-19 variants, it is more important than ever to leverage the power of machine learning to accelerate our drug discovery efforts.” Full story


WATERLOO - A team of researchers at the Mathematical Modelling and Biology Lab at the University of Waterloo have developed a model to predict future variants of viruses. “It has been shown by us and other researchers that artificial intelligence and text mining algorithms can be used to model genetic codes and predict virus mutations,” said Mohammad Kohandel, project lead alongside Amir Hossein Darooneh and Michelle Przedborski. Full story


LONDON - An international team of scientists, including a Western University researcher, has developed an artificial intelligence tool that facilitates more personalized treatments for depression. The project was lead by Shehzad Ali, professor of public health economics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. The findings of the AI tool’s efficacy were recently published in JAMA Psychiatry following a three-year clinical trial in England. Full story


MONTREAL - The Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) has been awarded $1.5M by the Government of Quebec to participate in its $14M "Consortium Acuité-Qc: prédire et visualiser l'action du medicament". The INRS work is being lead by Professor Steven Laplante, scientific co-head of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Laboratory. Full story


TORONTO - Medicine by Design has announced that Andrew Haller will become its first early-stage entrepreneur-in-residence to bridge the gap between research and the creation of products and ventures. Medicine By Design was funded by a $114-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund and supports150 researchers at the University of Toronto and its affiliated hospitals. Full story


AV & ROBOTICS


BRITISH COLUMBIA - Engineers at UBC Okanagan have designed a system to help robots work more effectively alongside their human coworkers. Debasmita Mukherjee, a doctoral student and lead author of a recently published 'A Survey of Robot Learning Strategies for Human-Robot Collaboration in Industrial Settings' and is one of several researchers at UBC’s Advanced Control and Intelligent Systems Laboratory who are working to develop systems that allow humans and robots to interact safely and efficiently. View report


BUSINESS

INTERVIEW - Learn how Manal Siddiqui, CEO, and Pietro Gagliano, CVO, at Transitional Forms, the Toronto-based agency are creating immersive content for the Metaverse.


TORONTO - Tealbook, a startup that aims to solve supply chain challenges by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide vendor intelligence has raised US$40-million in equity.

ESG is “a landing use case for us,” said Stephany Lapierre, CEO. “There’s such a need right now for better-quality data and reporting to the board and shareholders." Full story


TORONTO - A new start-up cofounded by Vector Institute postgraduate affiliate Estelle Inack is the first company to be spun-out from Vector. The new venture called yiyaniQ uses a neural network to get faster and more accurate derivative pricing calculations, one of finance’s most difficult problems. Full story


VANCOUVER - Abcelera, the company behind the biggest-ever IPO by a Canadian biotech firm wants the B.C. and federal governments to implement new rules it says will help keep scale-ups with valuable intellectual property from relocating to more tax-friendly jurisdictions. AbCellera’s chief financial officer Andrew Booth wants Canada to implement a patent-box regime, giving intellectual property-heavy companies like the biotech a break on taxes from some revenue. Not doing so, he suggests, could result in companies leaving for more tax-friendly jurisdictions. Full story


SASKATCHEWAN - Saskatchewan Polytechnic is upgrading its fleet of flight simulators that possess a level two rating from Transport Canada, able to instrument proficiency checks. Paul Carter, Sask Polytech School of Transportation dean stated; "We are also excited to know that technical data generated by its use will support the case being made to increase the overall use of artificial intelligence in flight training.” Full story

CANADA - CN and Google Cloud this week announced a seven-year strategic partnership to advance CN’s supply chain transformation lead by Mohit Bhat, vice president of digital customer solutions, innovation, digital platforms and cloud transformation. CN says it will look at using data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to help solve some of the industry-specific problems in the supply chain ecosystem. Full story


TORONTO - Thompson Reuters, the Toronto-based global company,has announced that it is bolstering its operations with artificial intelligence, machine learning, best-of-breed software and delivering its services in the cloud. Shawn Malhotra, head of engineering said "We’re going through a pretty significant and exciting transformation right now. A key part of it is to become a leading content-enabled technology company,” Full story


TORONTO - WellnessLiving has announced the release of their Isaac AI tool that analyzes data to predict whether any clients are at risk of churning in the next 30 days. "With about half of all new gym and fitness members quitting within three months, the ability to predict client churn risk ahead of time is a game-changing advantage" says WellnessLiving COO and Co-Founder, Sasha Davids. Full story


PUBLIC SECTOR / PPP


MONTREAL - SCALE AI has announced 12 new projects representing a total of $71 million in investments to help implement real-world applications in AI. Julien Billot, CEO of SCALE AI, pointed out, "Our role in the Canadian AI ecosystem gives us the privilege to participate at the forefront of AI technological advances". Full story


TORONTO - Machine learning and physical chemistry specialist Anatole von Lilienfeld has been named the inaugural holder of the Clark Chair in Advanced Materials at the Vector Institute and the University of Toronto, becoming a pivotal faculty member at its Acceleration Consortium. Full story


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