Deepening artificial intelligence expertise

    DeepMind supports new endowed research chair at University of Alberta.

    By Jennifer Pascoe on January 30, 2018

    One of the world’s leading AI research companies, DeepMind, has announced that they are funding an endowed chair position in the University of Alberta’s Department of Computing Science. The new position comes with additional funding to support other departmental initiatives relating to AI research in the Department of Computing Science.

    Following on last summer’s opening of DeepMind’s first international research office, DeepMind is strengthening its support for the growth of Edmonton and Canada’s artificial intelligence (AI) community. 

    The endowed research chair will have full academic freedom to pursue any area of interest in the field of artificial intelligence. Recruitment efforts for the chair position are now underway, with the goal of hiring an established senior researcher with an international profile.

    Demis Hassabis, Founder & CEO, DeepMind, said:
    “When we opened DeepMind Alberta last year, in partnership with the University of Alberta, it was really important to us that we meaningfully support local talent and invest in the next generation of researchers. The DeepMind endowed chair, together with additional funding to support AI research at the Department of Computing Science, is a sign of our continued commitment to this cause, and we look forward to the research breakthroughs this deep collaboration will bring.”

    Jonathan Schaeffer, renowned AI researcher and dean of the Faculty of Science, noted that artificial intelligence is a force that will help shape the world of tomorrow, with spectacular advances in recent years.

    “Companies, governments, and citizens continue to produce data on an unprecedented scale. Artificial intelligence provides opportunities to help society make sense of this deluge of data by turning data into knowledge to aid decision-making processes,” said Schaeffer. “DeepMind’s philanthropic support of fundamental research at the University of Alberta will maintain our momentum at the leading edge of the field to develop solutions to address our world’s most pressing challenges.”

    The University of Alberta is a leader in the area of artificial intelligence, in particular machine and reinforcement learning, ranking second in the world in terms of publications in top venues according to www.csrankings.org.

    I am thrilled to see DeepMind's commitment to help maintain our department at the forefront of AI research,” said Mario Nascimento, chair of the university’s Department of Computing Science. “The endowed chair and the additional funding will not only further increase the research capacity of an already outstanding AI research group but augment its supervisory capacity, leading to training more and better young researchers in an area that is and will continue to be in high demand."

    The DeepMind research lab was created to allow close collaboration with the researchers and students at the University of Alberta, while supporting Edmonton’s growth as a technology and research hub. DeepMind Alberta is led by professors Rich Sutton, Michael Bowling, and Patrick Pilarski. Starting with an initial team of 10, DeepMind’s Edmonton ranks have already nearly doubled in size since July 2017.

    The new DeepMind endowed chair is a testament to the boundary-pushing research conducted in the University of Alberta Faculty of Science, supporting academics with the resources they need to transform bold ideas into solutions for society.

    In the coming year, the University of Alberta will also be recruiting to fill positions supported by the federal government’s Pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy. In addition to existing collaborations with industry heavyweights such as Google, Twitter, IBM, Royal Bank of Canada, Mitsubishi Electric, Cisco, Bioware, and Servus Credit Union, with several more major collaborations set for imminent announcement, the future for Canadian artificial intelligence research looks bright.