Alphabet’s recent announcement that it will cut a whopping 12,000 staff sent shockwaves throughout the industry.
The move will impact many regions and organizations, including dealing a blow to Alberta’s burgeoning artificial intelligence scene.
That is because Google owns DeepMind, the company’s AI research arm, which runs an office in Alberta.
As a result of the cuts, the Edmonton office of UK-born DeepMind is shuttering, reported Bloomberg recently.
DeepMind Alberta was the company’s first expansion beyond the United Kingdom. That was in 2017, when the province was less known for its AI excellence.
A silver lining is that Canada will remain a major component of DeepMind’s AI research, with much of the Edmonton lab consolidating into Toronto and Montreal offices, according to a spokesperson from the company. Those offices, which are more integrated into Google’s infrastructure, will remain open.
In particular, engineers and researchers will be offered to relocate to other offices, Bloomberg reports; those in “organizational infrastructure roles” may not be so lucky.
Despite the loss of DeepMind, the province of Alberta remains robust in terms of AI excellence.
For example, Edmonton’s Nanoprecise Sci Corp recently raised US$10 million to advance its AI-based predictive maintenance solution provider that specializes in reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturing plants. Meanwhile the inaugural Vector AI20 for 2023 recognized Edmonton’s AltaML, which uses data to build AI tools that optimize performance, mitigate risks, and create new opportunities.
Even outsiders are looking in. France-born Sidetrade is accelerating its expansion into the region: the company announced an investment of $24 million across three years to develop a new North American headquarters in their chosen city of Calgary.
“Sidetrade’s expansion in Calgary as its North American headquarters speaks to the city’s leading business environment and the exciting momentum in our tech and innovation ecosystem,” stated Brad Parry, President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, in October.
According to Parry, Alberta and Calgary are centres for AI excellence with highly skilled talent.
“Calgary [is] where bright minds with big ideas are solving global challenges,” he said.
Others, like DeepMarkit, are already based locally—but doubling down on investment and research into AI tech. The company recently announced the formation of new subsidiary to focus on exploring, developing, or investing in innovative Artificial Intelligence-based technologies.
Ranjeet Sundher, CEO of DeepMarkit, describes the field of AI as “transformative.”
From consumers to startups, AI is weaving its way into more aspects of everyday life.
Applications and uses are “seemingly endless,” the executive noted earlier this month.
Nationally, Canada remains on a world-class level for AI tech and research, with strong AI ecosystems growing not just in Alberta also along the Toronto-Waterloo corridor and in Vancouver as well.