Is Canada still in the lead in AI?

You may be shocked about this, but no, we’re not.

By VICTOR ANJOS

I remember the days of helping start DeepLearni.ng which would later go on to become Dessa where the world of AI, and even more specifically, the world of deep learning and Neural Networks was new and novel, and Canada was a little bit ahead of the world.  Fast forward 4 years and here we are, with all governments setting a very common policy position on AI; let’s do everything we can to be relevant and we have larger countries with much larger budgets, who have set themselves apart in other ways.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane of what the Canadian government (and Canada, more broadly) did and find out where we stand today.

Cool Timeline

2013
2013

Victor Anjos launches Big Data Week

Victor Anjos launches Big Data Week
Victor Anjos with help from his former company Viafoura launches Big Data Week Toronto, a conference highlighting all things data and inviting speakers to discuss machine learning and big data […]
2013

Victor Anjos & Joy Robson launch Data for Good

Victor Anjos & Joy Robson launch Data for Good
Victor and Joy met at Big Data Week and as luck would have it, hit it off immediately and launched Data for Good, inspired by DataKind.  Data for Good has […]
2016
2016

Element AI launches

Element AI launches
Element AI, founded by AI heavyweight Yoshua Bengio and his colleagues Jean-Francois Gagne and Nicholas Chapados, is a research incubator based in Montreal, QC. Using an “AI-first” strategy applied to […]
2016

DeepLearni.ng hires Victor Anjos as CTO

DeepLearni.ng hires Victor Anjos as CTO
DeepLearni.ng hires Victor Anjos to be their CTO and launches.  Victor rapidly prototypes an AI platform for the masses with co-op students and gets it in the hands of the […]
2016

Victor Anjos and team deploy Neural Network at Scotiabank

Victor Anjos and team deploy Neural Network at Scotiabank
Weeks of work go into challenging an incumbent model in credit card default and collections.  Without seeing any data and working within the confines of the Enterprise, the first neural […]
2017
2017

Canada’s AI Institutes created

Canada’s AI Institutes created
Canada’s national AI Institutes are established (Amii, Mila, Vector Institute)
2017

NextAI Launches

NextAI Launches
NEXT Canada launches NextAI, an AI innovation hub for entrepreneurs and researchers looking to commercialize technology with global impact.
2017

Vector Institute Created

Vector Institute Created
Following the Canadian goverment announcement of the 2017 Budget, the Vector Institute launched. Headquartered out of MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, and with AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton as Chief Scientific […]
2017

CIFAR develops Pan-Canadian AI Strategy

CIFAR develops Pan-Canadian AI Strategy
Canada appoints CIFAR to develop and lead the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy, the world’s first national AI Strategy
2017

Creative Destruction Lab Quantum ML

Creative Destruction Lab Quantum ML
Following the Canadian goverment announcement of the 2017 Budget, the Vector Institute launched. Headquartered out of MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, and with AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton as Chief Scientific […]
2019
2019

1000ml creates a Last Mile AI Finishing School

1000ml creates a Last Mile AI Finishing School
After years of teaching Canada about all things data, Victor Anjos and his partner, Jansen Sullivan, create a Last Mile AI Finishing School with the help of actual industry professionals.  […]
2019

Victor Anjos and team deploy world’s first robotics Reinforcement Learning Model

Victor Anjos and team deploy world’s first robotics Reinforcement Learning Model
Victor Anjos and the team at Kindred.Ai deploy first reinforcement learning model into robotics production, having its robotic arms (and grippers) learn on the fly about their environment, context and […]
2019

Victor Anjos and 1000ml launch its Hatch program

Victor Anjos and 1000ml launch its Hatch program
Unlike most incubators or accelerators, the purpose of Hatch at 1000ml is to empower data and AI companies with great space, incredible guru level knowledge in all facets of business […]

Let’s explore the world landscape now. 

AI Global Landscape Rankings

RankCountryTalentInfrastructureOperating EnvironmentResearchDevelopmentGovernment StrategyCommercialTotal
1US10010080.410089.468.5100100
2China15.893.189.45210010034.458.3
3UK31.878.110037.82088.222.643.7
4Canada32.862.980.929.420.396.715.237
5Germany23.473.377.233.319.596.38.735.3
6France24.652.996.527.22395.61134.1
7Singapore41.885.936.224.518.630.412.833.3
8South Korea11.484.947.122.473.123.13.331.7
9Japan12.268.959.532.22474.110.930.4
10Ireland29.398.748.220.1273.84.430.4
* Source: CEO World Magazine [https://ceoworld.biz/2019/12/04/report-countries-that-are-leading-the-artificial-intelligence-race/]

Canada at one time was in the lead in AI, being the first country to have a Federal level (Pan-Canadian) AI Strategy. Lack of critical money and a heavy reliance on academia has seen Canada lose its lead, very specifically in commercialization; where it really matters.

And finally, Canada’s position is obviously not only internal.

  • As a country we are always looking to multi-nationals to invest in the country, create jobs, etc…  The issue I have with such investment is that the corporate giants are sure to take all revenue out of the country as quickly as possible and are really only here to further the brain drain.

As you can see from the charts in this post and the current way in which Canada is broadly placating any and every large tech multi-national, the strategy seems to have fully changed.  Canada is no longer a hotbed for AI (especially commercializable AI), with China, the US and even Germany making huge leaps.  We could very well see what happened more generally with technology where some fearless leaders persist and push the agenda, though no AI unicorns are built in Canada.

At 1000ml, we are trying to change that with our Hatch program which is meant to foster these ideas with serious levels of NON-dilutive investment and access to:

– world leading AI experts (not academics, but those that have had a lot of commercial success in AI)

– world leading (FREE) cloud and infrastructure

– vastly reduced cost of consultation and work done with our resident AI teams

So what do you do when all signs point to having to go to University to gain any sort of advantage?  Unfortunately it’s the current state of affairs that most employers will not hire you unless you have a degree for even junior or starting jobs. Once you have that degree, coming to a Last Mile Finishing School, with 1000ml being the only one worldwide, is the only way forward to gaining the practical knowledge and experience that will jumpstart your career.

Check out our next dates below for our upcoming courses, we’d love to have you there.