The Vector Institute, which was set up by the Canadian government to establish Toronto as a global hub for work in artificial intelligence, announced on Monday that Dr. Garth Gibson, a former Carnegie Mellon University professor, would be heading the institute as CEO.
Gibson is a Toronto native who moved to the United States in the 1980s to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He then took a teaching job at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he has also held several research and administrative posts.
The institute’s offices and laboratories are under construction at the University of Toronto, where artificial-intelligence pioneer Geoffrey Hinton conducted breakthrough research in a field known as deep learning and trained some of the most accomplished researchers in the field.
The institute has received $50 million from Ontario and $85 million-plus from more than 30 companies, including Shopify Inc., Magna International Inc., Canada’s big banks and U.S. tech giants, such as Google and Uber. Vector, which has officials from the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo on its board, will also receive tens of millions of dollars from a new federal program.
“What they’re doing [at Vector] is different from most institutes I’m aware of, so I was intrigued,” Gibson said. “This is something of an academic group with a consortium outside of the university with an agenda to support economic growth. That is unusual. … The fact that it is unusual, and that it creates new advantages and new challenges, is part of the attraction.”
AI has emerged as one of the hottest technology fields, and a lot of the credit for this advancement goes to the research conducted by University of Toronto Professor Geoffrey Hinton. As a result Toronto is now recognized as one of the top centers for AI research and talent, alongside Montreal and Edmonton, where AI pioneers Yoshua Bengio and Rich Sutton, respectively, are based.