Boosting Canada’s AI Sector: Ottawa Pledges $2.4 Billion Package To Secure “AI Advantage”

FULL DISCLOSURE: This is sponsored content for Verses AI.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a groundbreaking $2.4 billion investment plan this weekend, drawn from the forthcoming budget for 2024, aimed at consolidating Canada’s competitive edge in artificial intelligence (AI).

Among the key initiatives outlined in this investment package is $2 billion directed towards constructing and facilitating access to cutting-edge computing capabilities and technological infrastructure, tailored for Canada’s leading AI researchers, start-ups, and scale-ups.

This significant investment also paves the way for the establishment of a new AI Compute Access Fund, designed to offer immediate support to researchers and industry players. Additionally, plans are underway to roll out a Canadian AI Sovereign Compute Strategy, aimed at propelling the development of domestically-owned and operated AI infrastructure.

To expedite the introduction of innovative technologies to the market and accelerate AI adoption in pivotal sectors such as agriculture, clean technology, healthcare, and manufacturing, $200 million will be allocated through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies. Furthermore, a $100 million injection into the NRC IRAP AI Assist Program is earmarked to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in scaling up and enhancing productivity by integrating new AI solutions into their operations.

Meanwhile, $50 million has been allocated to the Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program to provide skills training to workers in sectors that may face disruption due to AI adoption, and another $50 million will be dedicated to establishing the Canadian AI Safety Institute, which will play a role in fostering the safe development and deployment of AI systems, while collaborating with stakeholders and international partners to mitigate risks associated with advanced AI technologies.

Additionally, $5.1 million has been set aside to bolster enforcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act, ensuring responsible AI innovation within Canadian businesses.

“These investments in Budget 2024 will help harness the full potential of AI so Canadians, and especially young Canadians, can get good-paying jobs while raising our productivity, and growing our economy,” Trudeau said.

Echoing Trudeau’s sentiments, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland underscored the significance of these investments in maintaining “Canada as a global leader in AI and ensure we are at the very cutting-edge of new technologies.”

Budget 2024, inclusive of these measures, is slated to be presented in the House of Commons by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

Canadian AI sector

In parallel to its counterparts in other countries, firms in the Canadian AI sector are ensuring that initiatives are in place to boost their respective capabilities, applying the technology in furthering other aspects of our lives.

In particular, Vancouver-based VERSES AI (CBOE: VERS) is a company that focuses on cognitive computing, especially inspired by biology and distributed intelligence. Its main product, Genius, is modeled after natural systems and neuroscience, touted to be capable of learning, adapting, and engaging with its environment. The company presents Genius as a next-generation “intelligence as a service” platform.

Back in December 2023, VERSES published an open letter to ChatGPT’s parent firm, OpenAI, in the New York Times, inviting collaboration on artificial general intelligence (AGI). In its letter, VERSES discussed alternative approach to AGI, which uses active inference. The approach uses techniques and tools that enable the design and deployment of intelligent agents that can learn from relevant data to produce auditable results through a decision-making and action-selection process.

Verses claims that this approach to AGI may soon surpass the performance of leading AI approaches that are based on deep learning, while managing to use less data and computations.

“If a value-aligned, safety-conscious project comes close to building AGI before we do, we commit to stop competing with and start assisting this project,” the firm said.

With respect to Genius, major firms are said to becoming interested in the technology. Following NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab joining the platform’s beta program in November, it was announced that the Volvo Car Group would also be following suit. The carmaker is set to test the Genius platform for advanced driver assistance and autonomous driving, aligning with their goal of developing safer roads and intelligent mobility solutions.

CEO Gabriel Rene expressed enthusiasm about Volvo’s participation, highlighting the potential of Genius to address safety challenges in assisted and autonomous driving. Volvo recently inaugurated a software testing center in Sweden to advance autonomous driving and driver assistance algorithms.

READ: VERSES AI Sees Volvo Car Group Join Genius Beta Program

VERSES also has ambitions in moving the industry forward, evidenced by its challenge to the AI sector with benchmark tests to measure the technology’s progress against conventional deep learning methods. The company recently announced a research roadmap outlining key milestones and benchmarks for the company’s Genius platform. They aim to match or exceed the performance of advanced AI models while using less data and energy.

The first benchmark focuses on image classification and generation tasks, aiming to demonstrate computational efficiency compared to traditional deep learning approaches. Results are expected to be released by the end of Q1–Q2 2024. The second benchmark, known as the Atari 10k Challenge, evaluates the efficiency of VERSES’ approach compared to other methods in learning Atari games. Results are expected to be shared in Q3 2024.

Lastly, the NeurIPS 2024 Melting Pot Challenge will showcase the benefits of VERSES’ active inference approach in dealing with uncertain environments and engineering multi-agent systems. Results are anticipated to be shared in Q4 2024–Q1 2025.

FULL DISCLOSURE: VERSES Technologies is a client of Canacom Group, the parent company of The Deep Dive. Canacom Group is currently long the equity of Verses Technologies. The author has been compensated to cover VERSES Technologies on The Deep Dive, with The Deep Dive having full editorial control. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security.

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