Orange Institute #24

How did Montreal become the world's leading hub for Artificial Intelligence? - Montreal, Canada

November, 2019

During the meetings organized during these 4 days, we were able to see with envy a city that attracts a volume of foreign capital equivalent to 2.5 billion dollars in 2018, directly responsible for the creation of approximately 6,000 new qualified jobs. Montrealers also boast an unemployment rate of less than 6% and a situation of full employment, particularly in the technology sector. In short, a situation that explains this extremely dynamic state of mind, confident in the future, almost naive. Moreover, the State plays a key role in this development. For every $1 invested by the company, the State contributes $3 to priority projects. Similarly, the strong investment by universities to attract the best academic profiles and the best talent also plays a driving role in the country’s growth.

Personalities such as Ugo Cavenaghi use AI as a tool to revolutionize learning at school and help the young generations to face the challenges that await them, but also to train executives in companies. When it comes to personalized experiences, AI also invites itself in the areas of chatbots (for better customer care with Heyday), connected objects with Connect&Go bracelets that make the purchasing process painless or financial assistants like Flinks that can get you a loan in one click.

In Montreal, people are convinced of the usefulness of AI as a valuable complementary help, never as an intruder ready to take the place of man. The ethical aspect is the subject to watch out for. Today AI does not rhyme with social inclusion, as Valentine Goddard points out. There are cultural, ethnic and economic biases that leave a whole section of society out of the picture. Moreover, the rules put in place by Western countries for responsible ethics risk being undermined by countries and powers that are less scrupulous in this area. Let us hope that the GAFA will be able to impose more respectful rules, particularly in the use of data. However, nothing can be done without the agreement of countries on a global scale and, as Pierre-Marc Johnson so rightly says, this process will be long and painful.