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Samsung Opens Global AI Centre in Toronto

In a completely unfamiliar move to the Canadian tech world, another global entity is opening up an AI lab in the country.

Samsung has announced a brand new AI lab in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District set to open this week on May 24. This is part of a broader announcement for the South Korean tech giant, as they also unveiled two other labs: one in Cambridge, U.K., and one in Moscow, Russia.

The goal for these labs is to explore user-centric AI, and with these three new labs, Samsung will have five total hubs around the world to study the exponentially-growing field. The other two labs are in Seoul and Silicon Valley, however, none of those five include the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) that opened in Montreal late last year. SAIT has collaborated with AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio and other leading minds to work on voice/image recognition, translation, autonomous driving, and robots.

These new labs will help Samsung in their goal to acquire over 1,000 top AI researchers by 2020. They’re going to have some work to do in Canada though as they do not even crack the top 10 in terms of companies hiring AI talent in the country. Samsung is now joining a host of other companies that are opening labs in Canada including Etsy, Thales, Facebook, and more.

“Samsung has a long history of pursuing innovation and we are excited to be bringing that same passion and technology leadership to AI,” said Hyun-suk Kim, president of Samsung Research. “With the new AI Centers and recruitment of leading experts in the field, our aim is to be a game changer for the AI industry.”

Kim spoke at the opening of the Cambridge AI centre, which will look to focus on areas like emotion recognition.

The Toronto AI centre will be lead by Larry Heck, the SVP of Samsung Research America and an expert when it comes to virtual personal assistant tech. Heck is also Samsung’s global AI lead. The Toronto centre will focus on more core AI technologies and cooperate with major universities in the country—which means there’s a good chance Samsung has been in contact with Waterloo.ai and the Vector Institute.

Darin Graham will be the head of the Toronto centre after serving as the VP of industry innovation at Vector and the president and CEO of the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network.

Samsung has five core aspects when it comes to what kind of AI it will focus on advancing and working with. These characteristics will drive the work done in Toronto’s lab. The five traits are below.

  • “User-centric,” realizing personalization through a multi-modal interface;
  • “Always learning,” through continuous self-learning from data;
  • “Always there,” as an ambient service;
  • “Always helpful,” with minimization of user intervention and response to requests;
  • “Always safe,” ensuring user safety and privacy.

Samsung has been expanding their services into Canada (and the rest of the world) more thoroughly over the past few years, including their digital assistant Bixby and mobile payment system Samsung Pay.

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