This will be Facebook’s fourth centre for AI research and the first one in Canada. It is expected to employ ten researchers by the end of the month, and grow to thirty staff by 2018, according to Friday’s announcement.
Yann LeCun, Facebook’s chief AI scientist, said that the company chose Montreal to host its new lab because of the city’s long-standing reputation for research excellence in the field. “[Facebook] looks forward to working with and investing in the AI community in Montreal to help further enhance Canada’s status as one of the most innovative research hubs in the world,” he maintained.
The centre will be headed by McGill professor Joëlle Pineau, who was also present at the event. Pineau, a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, told the crowd that her motivation for joining Facebook’s AI research team was rooted in the company’s “open and collaborative approach,” which links the public and private sectors.
Also on hand for the announcement were Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, Quebec Minister of Economy Dominique Anglade, and McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier.
Speaking with the Bull & Bear, Principal Fortier remarked: “This is great for McGill because our own researchers will be involved in these very important discovery processes.”
During his speech, Prime Minister Trudeau spoke about the important role that Canadian researchers play in the field of AI: “Facebook’s new lab in Montréal will underline Canada’s status as a global AI powerhouse, and a leader in the economy of the future.”
As the event drew to a close, a crowd of students gathered outside the McGill Faculty Club for a chance to meet Trudeau at his alma mater. The Prime Minister went out to greet them, and chided the group to “get back to class.”
Speaking to the students, he remarked, “It’s great to be back at McGill, and great to be celebrating some of the extraordinary education, innovation, science, and partnerships with the real world that are going to make a difference in how you find your paths and change the world.”