17 Exciting Facts about AI in Canada [The View from 2021]

Artificial Intelligence is getting better and better. Our everyday lives are already shaped by AI development, and we’re likely going to see even more fundamental changes in the near future.

Each country pretty much has its own AI development teams. While there’s some common AI knowledge, a lot of it is controlled strictly by governments and companies. Today, we’re going to focus on facts about AI related to Canada to see how far the country is in terms of AI growth

The thing is:

There are many AI labs in Canada, and not all focus on the same aspects of artificial intelligence and machine learning. There are teams specializing in visual recognition, language recognition, autonomous driving, problem-solving, etc. AI in business and the economy is also a thing – with state-of-the-art programs that predict various economic fluctuations and trends.

We’ll see why some experts think that the world hasn’t done much when it comes to general AI since the early days of development. In this respect, Canada can be one of the first countries to provide funds and infrastructure for wide-scale, long-term projects that will try to bring it together and develop a viable general AI theory. 

Interesting Facts about AI (Editor’s Choice)

  • 16% of all Canadian companies actively use AI.
  • 86% of Canadians believe they don’t use AI in everyday life. 
  • In 2017, Canada’s government renewed AI investment, with $125 million going to AI institutes across the country.
  • With its US$ 339.8 million funding, Coveo is one of the largest independent Canadian AI companies.
  • Hourly rates of AI experts can go well over $150. 
  • Superclusters Initiative is Canada’s largest AI initiative – with more than $1.2 billion.

Artificial Intelligence Canada

1. Artificial Intelligence Canada statistics on technology use from 2017 show that 77% of Canadians think modern technology helps them communicate with other people.

(Source: Invest in Canada; StatsCanada)

Moreover, 66% of Canadians believe that technology helps them save time. 

Now:

As a well-off nation, Canada heralds technological development globally. Modern technology is available to all Canadians – practically all have access to the internet and use it every day. Alberta, for instance, has a highly efficient internet infrastructure, and more than 94% of its population uses the internet. 

2. Around one-seventh of all Canadian companies are using AI.

(Source: Deloitte.ca)

These AI stats didn’t change between 2014 and 2018, with only 16% of Canadian companies actively using AI. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we’re likely going to see some significant changes in this respect.

What has to change is the mindset. In 2018, only 4% of Canadians could broadly explain what AI is and how it works. 

Check this out:

86% of surveyed Canadians say they don’t use AI, which is most certainly incorrect, as practically all Canadians use a smartphone with advanced software. 

3. In 2017, the Canadian government invested $125 million in AI institutes across the country.

(Source: TheConversation, Vector Institute)

The robot revolution is happening right now in Canada. In 2017, Canada came up with a state-wide strategy for developing a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. For starters, $125 million was invested, with more funds coming from various sources over the years. 

The Pan-Canadian AI development plan involves three national institutes:

  • AMII in Edmonton
  • Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA)
  • Vector Institute Toronto

4. The Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Toronto has special programs for talents, training, and applied projects. 

(Source: TheConversation, Vector Institute)

With a particular emphasis on health technologies, the Toronto machine learning Vector Institute strives to improve the whole community’s wellbeing. It received $44 million in government AI investment in 2017

Artificial intelligence statistics

5. The AI Montreal Institute has more than 500 researchers working on various projects like hate speech detection, cognitive science, and credit assignment. 

(Source: TheConversation)

Montreal machine learning teams work together with the likes of Samsung, Google, IBM, Facebook, Astra Zeneca, and many other reputable companies and organizations. The Montreal Institute also received $44 million from Prime Minister Trudeau’s 2017 AI plan. 

Other institutions, like universities, organizations, and even hospitals, are included in this strategy. So, it’s not surprising to see such promising Canadian artificial intelligence statistics and exponential growth. 

Quite often, we hear that robots will replace humans. But with a good plan and education, robots and humans can easily work together. In Canada, companies that use robots actually hire 15% more people. 

6. More than 100 AI companies operate in Canada.

(Source: Clutch.co)

From small firms with a few employees to large companies with hundreds of programmers, technicians, and engineers – there’s everything you might possibly need.

Now: 

Some Canadian artificial intelligence companies focus more on app development and take artificial intelligence and machine learning as a side gig – like Push Interactions, for instance. 

On the other hand, large companies like Kaliber work on very specific AI services, such as software for surgeons that offer real-time suggestions during operations! One of the most remarkable facts about AI is that there are no limits when it comes to implementation – only our imagination. 

Top AI companies in Canada like Nu Echo have hundreds of employees, but their number is quite flexible. Some employees are hired for specific projects, while others work on a more long-term basis. Nu Echo specifically works on conversation automation – developing voice virtual agents and providing business consulting. 

On the other hand, Pro Cogia, which provides data science services in the pharma industry, has a few dozen experts with $150+ hourly rates

7. AI investment in Canada grew from US$289 million in 2017 to US$658 million in 2019. 

(Source: Statista, AIStartups.org)

We’ve seen that the government, on its own, invested $125 million in 2017. This means that private sector machine learning investments account for a significant proportion of all investments in Canada.

Here’s the deal:

There are 20+ artificial intelligence startups in Canada receiving millions of dollars in funding. Currently, the hottest startups are Coveo, Element AI, and Hopper. Coveo’s $US 339.8 million comes from various investors around the world – this company works in the fields of ecommerce, search engines, and customer service. 

Probably one of the most interesting facts about AI in Canada is that there are many small startups that aren’t necessarily controlled by big venture capital and corporate goals. The best artificial intelligence companies to invest in are often very small startups that only have a few experts with incredible visions. 

8. The best AI stocks in Canada options are Kinaxis and the Open Text Corporation.

(Source: Ca.Finance)

As of April 2021, Kinaxis stock is around $150, while Open Text corporation stock is $60. Keep in mind that stocks fluctuate all the time. Open Text, however, has a larger market cap of $16.8 billion, compared to Kinaxis’s $4.1 billion.

Comparing artificial intelligence statistics for 2020 and 2021, we can see that the COVID-19 pandemic had a detrimental impact on the AI industry, too. Fortunately, this industry has been one of the fastest ones to recover. 

9. In 2019, the University of Toronto received a $100 million gift from Gerald Schwartz and Heather Riesman.

(Source: Canada AI report)

If there was one fascinating artificial intelligence fact, many philanthropists are ready to share their wealth to foster scientific progress. The $100 million gift from Schwartz and Riesman will be spent on accelerating innovation, economic growth, and the ethical use of technology – and AI development is crucial in all these fields.

Thanks to these funds, a 750,000 square foot complex is being built. The facilities will be used by the University of Toronto’s brightest AI researchers.

10. The Canadian AI community is on the frontlines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Source: Canada AI report)

Health analytics company Blue Dot has raised $13 million since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, Bench Sci helps scientists access antibodies for research. This company has raised $27 million

And that’s not all:

Experts from the Vector Institute are using AI to find effective molecules in the fight against COVID while also developing modern software for X-ray analysis. 


Canada Artificial Intelligence History

11. Canada has a long artificial intelligence research history.

(Source: Canadian Encyclopedia)

In the early days, machine translation was the most interesting to Canadian researchers. This should come as no surprise, as many languages are spoken in the Great White North. 

In the 1970s, experts from the Université de Montréal worked on translations in the field of weather forecasts and industry (automatic translation of aircraft maintenance manuals). 

Historical artificial intelligence facts concerning Canadian researchers are sometimes quite surprising – this system for translation, developed back in the mid-1970s, was actually used until 2001, even though all funding stopped in 1981

12. The 1970s also saw the founding of the Canadian Society for Computational Studies of Intelligence, which has since provided many breakthroughs in the field of expert systems. 

(Source: Canadian Encyclopedia)

These included medical diagnosis, mining, and chemical analysis. Allan Campbell, a Canadian mining expert, worked on PROSPECTOR, which is a Stanford University Project. 

Then, in the 1980s, government funding was reduced significantly, giving this period the ominous name of the “AI Winter.” Marvin Minsky, one of the most influential researchers in the fields of cognitive science and machine learning, emphasized how the world has never quite recuperated from this AI Winter. 

Although artificial intelligence statistics are quite promising, it still seems as if fast profit and commercial use are the kings of modern AI research. This goes for AI in Canada, too, though we’ve seen big government and private funding relatively recently. 

13. Several dozen Canadian companies joined their forces in the late 1980s to end the AI winter, facts about AI technology reveal.

(Source: Canadian Encyclopedia)

Once again, universities, government, and private companies joined forces to work on long-term research projects and applied solutions. The initiative was named Precarn Associates.

The artificial intelligence Canada community was amazed to see such a spur in funding, but this didn’t last long. Artificial intelligence statistics for Canada show that funding gradually decreased in the 2000s, and Precarn was dissolved in 2011

14. The Montreal machine learning institute was founded by Yoshua Bengio, one of the pioneers in the field of deep learning.

(Source: MTL)

Since the early days, Montreal has been the hub where new ideas were generated and put into practice. Yoshua Bengio was a crucial figure in this respect, with his work on artificial neural networks and deep learning. The Canada AI community owes so much to this scientist, who’s also a co-founder of Element AI, a private company that offers smart solutions to challenging problems.

But it’s not all great news:

Unfortunately, Element AI is another example of how big funding doesn’t always produce significant scientific findings. Even though the company was formed in 2016, in 2020, it was deemed not marketable and commercial enough, losing many of its sponsors. It was eventually sold to ServiceNow, an American enterprise software company. 

Key takeaway:

We see why modern AI statistics and facts still show that a void exists between investors and researchers, something Minsky emphasized decades ago. Bengio’s initial intention was ultimately shaped by the demands of the market, not by the needs of science.

15. Geoffrey Hinton, a backpropagation pioneer, co-founded the Vector Institute at Toronto.

(Source: Wired)

Backpropagation is one of the main algorithms in the field of feedforward neural networks. Thanks to these and other inventions, Geoffrey Hinton was able to make impressive improvements in computer vision and recognition.

The Vector Institute, which Hinton co-founded in 2017, is a private company. 


The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Canada

16. By 2035, AI could double economic growth in Canada.

(Source: Accenture)

Artificial intelligence facts for 2020 show that the focus on the economy is starting to pay off. If cooperation between researchers and companies continues in the years to come, Canada could see an impressive 40% increase in labour productivity in the near future. 

facts about AI

17. The Superclusters Initiative will continue to expand. 

(Source: Newswire.ca, IC.GC)

With more than 285 projects, 900+ partners, over $1.28 billion in funding, and 4,600+ members, the Superclusters Initiative will most surely be Canada’s biggest source of innovation in the future. More than $515 million comes from the government. 

It gets better:

The initiative works on various projects – developing software that will recognize where to use pesticide in crop fields, for instance. A software like this can reduce pesticide use by up to 95%!


Conclusion

That was just the tip of the iceberg, the most basic facts about artificial intelligence in Canada. There are so many ways to explore and improve AI – and so many ways to apply it! Robots, machine learning, the internet of things, and neural networks are everywhere – chatbots, search engines, COVID-19 apps, you name it.

Yes, AI is a complex field, and there’s a lot to learn. But why sit back and watch the world’s creativity explode? Everyone can contribute to this exciting field with a little bit of work.

FAQ

Is Canada a leader in AI?

Yes. The government spends $100+ million on AI development each year, bringing teams together and providing much-needed infrastructure. 

Where can I study artificial intelligence in Canada?

The three hottest places are the Vector Institute in Toronto, the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, and AMII in Edmonton.

What percentage of companies are using AI?

Around 16% of Canadian companies are currently using AI. 

What is the IQ of artificial intelligence?

One of the most basic facts about AI and human intelligence is that IQ can only be used to describe human intelligence. We can say that the IQ of AI is unlimited; but in fact, standard IQ tests cannot be used to describe what AI actually does. A much better version of the IQ test for AI is the Turing Test

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *