Federal government to invest US$4.7mn in Montreal AI
The Canadian government announced today its plan to invest US$4.7mn in six Montreal-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) startup, the Montreal Gazette reports. Of the total sum, $3.7mn will go to startup accelerator Element AI, “the artificial intelligence company co-founded by Yoshua Bengio, a Université de Montréal professor and one of the pioneers of the AI technology known as deep learning.”
“We’re a world leader in artificial intelligence,” said Bengio. In “Montreal 75,000 workers are connected to artificial intelligence, and it’s got the highest concentration of students and researchers, so this is a point of pride and that’s why the conference is here.”
In an interview with Forbes magazine earlier this week, Bengio said: Canada clearly is a scientific leader in AI. Of course, Geoff [Hinton, another 'father of AI' that now works at Google] and I being here, and thanks to the CIFAR programme, which was started in Canada, that has initiated a lot of that progress.
We’re starting now in Canada to build the economic development around AI in several cities: Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Waterloo. There’s quite a lot of energy there. But of course, the size of Canada is nothing like the US or China. Even the Europeans are starting to invest heavily in AI. So, we'll see how a small country can continue to have the kind of leadership role we have scientifically but also in the industrial world.
I think it's really important for Canada to be part of that leadership and in part, because we bring not just the science but also humanist values that I think are really important because AI is going to change society and we want it to change for good.”
The remainder of the federal funding will be distributed among Imagia, which develops medical diagnoses AI and will receive $1,000,000, and the rest will be split between Roof.ai, C2RO Cloud Robotics, ARA Robotics and Keatext.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said in a press release: “Advancements in AI technology will create new sources of economic growth, some have estimated $15.7 trillion by 2030 associated with artificial intelligence in economic activity, we want a slice of that pie.”
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.