AI, Eh? – Unpacking Canada’s $2.4 Billion Bet

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How much is your country investing in artificial intelligence?

Up here in Canada, our Liberal government, under current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has made a bold move to attempt at securing the nation’s standing as a frontrunner in the AI race with a $2.4 billion investment package.
This commitment, announced at Scale AI‘s offices in my hometown of Montreal, aims to secure high-quality jobs for future generations.

The money is one thing, but getting that kind of compute is another thing.

Central to this initiative is the government’s plan to inject $2 billion into significantly enhancing the computing capabilities accessible to Canada’s AI researchers, startups, and scaleups.
The AI Compute Access Fund and the development of a Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy signal a long-term commitment to growing AI infrastructure, ensuring that Canadian-owned and located AI resources flourish.
Getting the chips, computers and processing power will be no easy task.
Anyone else remember how countries threw money at Covid vaccine producers?
This feels more like that… only exponentially bigger.

Let’s say Canada can circle that square…

Beyond computing power, an additional $405 million is earmarked for a variety of projects aimed at nurturing AI startups, driving AI adoption across critical sectors, and laying the groundwork for a safer AI future.
This includes funding to bring new AI technologies to market, boost AI integration within small and medium-sized businesses, and establish a Canadian AI Safety Institute to navigate the ethical challenges posed by advanced AI systems.

And this is where the real work comes in.

  • How do we ensure that we can get the best talent to stay here or move here?
  • How do we ensure that this money doesn’t help these startups to grow and simply be acquired by one of the Big Tech players?
  • How do we ensure that this money doesn’t give the Big Tech companies much more money and power?
  • How do ensure that these well-funded initiatives can now get access to enough data to create meaningful and valuable Large Language Models?

With Budget 2024 on the horizon (which means this funding could be more of a election promise than a deliverable), the Canadian AI community eagerly awaits further details on the implementation of these ambitious measures.

Is it possible to both fund new AI initiatives and keep them locked within a geographic border?

This is what Elias Makos and I discussed on CJAD 800 AM. Listen in right here.

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