The first-ever AI Week is coming to Alberta

Organizers hope the event will attract more talent to local tech innovators

By Halen Kooper | March 18, 2022 |5:00 am

Cam Linke, CEO of Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute

Photo: AMII

With the tech industry gaining popularity across Calgary and the province, it’s no wonder that Alberta is holding its inaugural AI Week this spring.

The event is being put on by Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) and will be attracting researchers from around the world as AMII is facilitating travel of 500 guests to the event through a $100,000 talent bursary.

Cam Linke, CEO of AMII, says that AI Week is also a celebration of a couple of major milestones.

“AI Week is a celebration of our 20-year anniversary and it’s the celebration of our five-year anniversary of the Pan Canadian AI program,” he says. The Pan Canadian AI Strategy is a program supported by the Government of Canada with the goal of strengthening Canada’s leadership in AI.

Aside from the celebrations, Linke is hoping AI Week will be an opportunity to showcase the opportunities, talent, research, and leadership within AI that Alberta can offer the world.

“Being able to show off what’s going on in AI in Alberta to the entire world,” Linke says of what he’s looking forward to. “Bringing people from around the world to meet our researchers, our company, and our province with the incredible resources that are here, as well as the AI leadership.”

The world and Alberta AI

So far, Linke says that over 500 people have applied to receive some of the $100,000 talent bursary, which he says is promising for the future of AI within the province.

“The most important thing right now is the ability to access technical talent – specifically in AI – so for us to be here, with talent who are in the AI space or AI technical talent,” he says. “Huge opportunities for companies here.”

The second benefit is that it provides Alberta with the opportunity to showcase what the province has to offer in the field of AI to both researchers and potential partners.

“Second one, is really to be able to show off the activity and this place as an important place to be connected to and invested in,” Linke says.

The need to bring more AI researcher talent to Alberta is something Dr. Anmol Kapoor, founder and CEO of Calgary-based CardiAI, agrees with. He feels there’s not enough talent for the industry at the moment.

“The climate here is challenging,” Kapoor says. “We have a lack of talent in Canada and when you have a lack of talent or not enough talent there’s a high demand versus supply.” He adds that when there are more people in AI, it allows them to do more research and development.

The future of artificial intelligence

While the growth of AI might be slow at times, Linke thinks the opportunities will only continue to open as there is a robust amount of technology that can impact every industry.

“There’s a thing right now where every company has the ability to derive value from AI,” he says. “At the same time, a lot of research and advances are happening all the time in AI so it opens the door more and it’s a really exciting time.”

Linke says the combination of AI and research and development is another exciting factor.

“Sitting at the intersection of the two is really interesting as being in a place that is focusing on research and pushing the field forward, as well as taking advantage of the science is awesome.”

Kapoor agrees that the future is exciting. He has done a lot of work with medical AI, and as this technology continues to grow into our daily lives, he says challenges in AI will be solved by necessity.

“We use AI in our everyday life – from GPS to our shopping habits to automatic cars,” he says. “I do believe AI is going to help, like in point of care in health care – for example, AI will be able to bring more innovations to the point of care systems, allowing us to better deliver health care.”

AI Week runs from May 24 to 27 with in-person events taking place in Edmonton, as well as online components.

Halen Kooper

Halen Kooper is a contributor at Calgary Citizen.

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