Vector Institute: researching the future
As Canada experiences a rush of investment within the AI sector, the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence is leading the pack.
Foreseeing the possibility to improve the lives of ordinary Canadians, the Toronto-based institute was founded in 2017 with the vision of driving excellence, leadership, knowledge, creation and usage of artificial intelligence (AI).
But what are the basics of AI and machine learning?
Generally, machines are provided known ‘inputs’ and their associated ‘outputs’ and then give a predicted outcome for a set of new ‘inputs’. The machine’s ultimate goal is, based on previous results, to keep making predictions until the error margin (called the ‘cost function’) between the predicted and actual output is as low as possible.
The machine learning process is based around this premise.
Although the technology being developed by the Institute is far from ordinary, the day-to-day operations and concerns of the organisation are the same as any business.
“We’re here to help superstar researchers but our main goal is to strengthen the region,” said Garth Gibson, CEO, in an article with Science Business. “A strong workforce, a compelling place to work, a good tax law and a sense of competitiveness among your people. We have all of that.”
In the business of breakthroughs
News and updates on the Institute’s website are uploaded regularly, with the latest breakthroughs or projects showing potential outlined in scientific detail. Recent projects include:
New neural networks: The Institute has developed new models with the enhanced potential to predict patterns in medicine, finance and even human genetics. Using backpropagation, computers are able to solve a problem using ‘gradient descent’.
Uncovering injuries: Utilising machine-learning, a paper written by researchers Boshra, Dhindsa and Boursalie et al, offers the opinion that computers might be able to recognise symptoms of concussion in patients years after their original injury.
The research team’s algorithm can allegedly achieve an 81% accuracy rate - a percentage which eclipses current clinical capabilities. In addition, the algorithm could determine which specific part of the brain was affected.
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Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.