On September 27 and 28, 2018, the GCCIR hosted a two day symposium at the University of Alberta and invited international speakers, academic researchers, policy makers, company representatives and students to discuss the applications of Artificial Intelligence to a variety of different sectors and fields.
The symposium was organized in cooperation with the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Science and Future Energy Systems Initiative, the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), the Consulate General of France in Canada, the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Toronto, CzechInvest and the German-Center for Research and Innovation – New York, and included panel discussions on the relevance of artificial intelligence in the areas of Precision Health, Human and Machine Interaction, Policy, Precision Agriculture/AgriFoods, Transport, Future Energy Systems, and Humanities and Social Sciences.Each of the panels included a short presentation delivered by the moderator to introduce the applications of artificial intelligence to their field and spark discussion among the panelists. As the content of the presentations and the individual questions were left to the discretion of the moderator, each presentation and ensuing discussion was quite different in nature. While most presentations highlighted the benefits of artificial intelligence to a given field, a few also reminded the audience members to critically reflect on the rapid technology advancements in the field of artificial intelligence and the risks these can entail if not governed effectively.
Each day also included a keynote address. On Thursday, the audience was reminded by Dr. Jonathan Schaeffer that artificial intelligence research and development has been around for many years now, and that the University of Alberta has been a key institution in the field for decades. Formerly, the Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta, Dr. Schaeffer gave a brief introduction into the history of artificial intelligence and shared his experiences with the projects and successes that he was involved in. Among them is a program called Chinook, a computational proof to solve the game of checkers that took Dr. Schaeffer and his team “18 years to complete and is one of the longest running computations in history” (Mullins).
Friday’s keynote address by Dr. Michal Pěchouček provided an excellent overview of the artificial intelligence landscape in the Czech Republic. Also focusing on the advancements that artificial intelligence developers from the Czech Republic are significantly contributing to in the games and entertainment industries, Dr. Pěchouček introduced the main research centres for artificial intelligence in the Czech Republic, their fundamental and applied research in artificial intelligence, as well as the AI Startup culture that was able to rise in the Czech Republic as a result of the ongoing research.
Further international speakers included Rodolphe Gelin from France, Dr. Jan Alexandersson and Henning Wilms from Germany, Sana Khareghani from the United Kingdom, as well as Dr. Jan Platoš, Dr. Ondřej Bojar, Dr. Pavel Juruš and Dr. Radim Burget from the Czech Republic, who through their presentations, moderation of three of the conference’s eight panels, and sharing of their experiences and knowledge in AI during the panel discussions added an invaluable international facet to the discussions.
It was no doubt a well-rounded conference and we, the GCCIR, could not have hoped for livelier discussions or a better audience and speakers.
Mullins, Justin. “Checkers ‘Solved’ after Years of Number Crunching.” New Scientist, New Scientist, 19 July 2007, www.newscientist.com/article/dn12296-checkers-solved-after-years-of-number-crunching/.