Element AI’s Yoshua Bengio says Canada is at the forefront of the AI revolution

As Canada continues to emerge as a leader in the artificial intelligence space, it’s worth assessing how new AI technologies will change people’s lives.

Last week on The Disruptors, co-host Bruce Croxon spoke with Yoshua Bengio, who is a pioneer in the machine learning space. Bengio is one of the founders of Element AI, an organization dedicated to helping companies develop an AI-first strategy.

“Ten years ago, we were doing very basic research.” – Yoshua Bengio

Bengio discussed how Canada became an AI giant, and how AI technology might impact people’s lives going forward. He said Canada has been “at the forefront” of the AI revolution, and more international companies focused on AI are looking to come to Canada.

“Ten years ago, we were doing very basic research,” said Bengio. “We’ve managed to improve on existing AI methods. The interesting thing that’s happening is that we’re seeing economic development in Canada happening with startups and multinationals coming to Canada to open shop because they want to take advantage of the critical mass of researchers and students.”

Bengio added that there’s a race between different countries to invest in AI and attract talent. While Canada has been doing fairly well, the country needs to invest in talent and research.

“We need to invest heavily so that not only do we keep our talent, we train more and make sure it gets connected to our companies here to get into AI,” said Bengio.

When asked about the commercialization of deep learning and AI, Bengio says Canada will continue seeing changes in the way people interact with cars and computers. He adds that AI will have a huge impact on the healthcare system and the way medical treatments are designed.

Croxon says that while AI development will remarkably make people’s lives easier, there are still some fears that come with it.

“This whole movement is not about us programming those inevitable situations into the machine. It’s about machines learning on the go and becoming smarter. It doesn’t really need us, which is super exciting but also where the fear comes in when people start to talk about machines taking over the world.”

Watch the full interview below:

BetaKit is a production partner on The Disruptors. Tune in to BNN every Thursday night at 7pm for full episodes!

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.