BMO invests $5 million in U of T lab combining AI and the arts

u of t

This morning, BMO announced that it is making a $5 million investment in a new University of Toronto lab called the BMO Lab for Creative Research in the Arts, Performance, Emerging Technologies, and AI. This is the bank’s largest investment in a Canadian post secondary institution to date.

The BMO Lab will host high-profile, public artistic events, and aims to create a global network of artists and researchers that combine art and technology.

The BMO lab will be housed within the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies. Students from the arts, humanities, sciences, and engineering will be able to explore how AI and other technologies can impact artistic expression.

“With the advance of machine learning over the past 15 years, AI applications are rapidly changing how we work, create and live,” said Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto. “Thanks to this visionary gift from BMO Financial Group, the BMO lab will bring together researchers and students from across the university to explore the potential for human expression in AI and other advanced technologies. At the same time, it will empower a new generation of young leaders with the ability to apply this technology to solve problems and address new challenges.”

The BMO Lab will host high-profile, public art events and aims to create a global network of artists and researchers that combine art and technology.

According to The Globe and Mail, which first reported the story, 18 graduate students will work with faculty and artists in fields like computer science and music.

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“Our partnership to launch the BMO Lab represents a unique convergence of technology and the humanities, providing opportunities for students to research AI and shift the paradigm of creativity,” said Darryl White, CEO of BMO.

“To strengthen competitiveness, companies must harness the full power and potential of technologies responsibly, while developing talent for the future, including investing in employee training and upskilling,” White added. “At BMO, we’re seeing tremendous benefits from the integration of AI, freeing up capacity for employees to engage in valuable insight-driven work and creating benefits for customers such as significantly reducing time to open business accounts.”

David Robeky, a lecturer at the University of Toronto and an artist that has explored digital surveillance in his work, is acting as the inaugural director of the lab.

“Ensuring that our culture remains centred around human values while benefiting from the possibilities of technologies such as AI will require an unprecedented degree of inter-disciplinary creativity,” said Robeky. “The uniqueness of the BMO Lab is that it is grounded in theatre, with a focus on human minds and bodies expressing ideas and emotions in real time and space. This will provide students a context in which to learn to work effectively with people of very different disciplines in a creative, collaborative, and challenging learning environment.”

Photo via Unsplash.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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