Canada punches above its weight with AI researchers in new Element AI report

The number of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers in the Canadian private sector is proportionally higher than in other countries, according to the 2020 report from Montreal-based Element AI. Global AI Talent Report.

The report found that Canada has 367 AI researchers, ranking second after the United States.

The Global AI Talent Report measured the size of the talent pool available in the AI ​​industry through self-reported data on social media and on-demand through the monthly total number of job postings for the same position until August 2020. The objective of the report is to assess the most current global models for the global AI talent pool.

The report tracked 477,956 people worldwide working in the AI ​​industry, with 61% working in productization, 38% in engineering, and just 1% in research. The report found no countries where the share of researchers was even close to that of other roles. However, the closest country was Canada, with 2.36% of its talent pool being researchers.

“Canada weighs more heavily here, perhaps due to the number of international companies coming to set up AI labs specifically to attract research talent,” the report notes.

The report found that Canada has 367 researchers in total, putting it second only to the United States, which had 1,600 researchers. Despite the high ranking, the 367 researchers still represent a negative drop of 1.3% from last year, according to the report.

Canada is one of many countries that have seen their share of researchers fall this year. Element AI said these declining numbers could show a trend towards more researchers moving into engineering and implementation roles, but stressed that the AI ​​industry should be careful not to underinvest. in research.

“It is important that the role of researchers does not lose its importance,” the report states. “Organizations that benefit from state-of-the-art techniques cannot expect to stay ahead of the game for long in this rapidly changing field without reinvesting in good research.”

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The report also notably observed that job postings for new roles in the AI ​​industry have increased by 20-30% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report also notes that women account for only 15% of published research in the field, down from 12% in 2007, indicating the continued dominance of men in the industry. This disparity has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, according to the report, with the decline in the output of female researchers indicating a setback for women in industry.

Canada is home to a number of AI-focused centers. Specifically, Montreal, Toronto, and Edmonton have benefited from organizations like Mila, the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute, and the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Over the past few years, many global organizations have chosen to locate in Canada to tap into its AI talent pool. In 2017, Google’s DeepMind opened its first international office in Edmonton. Unity Technologies, a video game software company from San Francisco, opened an AI lab in Montreal in 2019.

The country is also home to two notable AI pioneers, Yoshua Bengio, scientific director of Mila, and Geoffrey Hinton, a professor at the University of Toronto. Bengio and Hinton have been dubbed two of the “Godfathers of AI” and are both recipients of the prestigious Turing Prize, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Computing”.

Image source Mila

James G. Williams