AI is reshaping industries, society and the “very fabric of innovation” — and Canada is poised to play a key role in this global transformation, said NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang during a fireside chat with leaders from across Canada’s thriving AI ecosystem.
“Canada, as you know, even though you’re so humble, you might not acknowledge it, is the epicenter of the invention of modern AI,” Huang told an audience of more than 400 from academia, industry and government gathered Thursday in Toronto.
In a pivotal development, Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne shared Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Canada has signed a letter of intent with NVIDIA.
Nations including Canada, France, India and Japan are discussing the importance of investing in “sovereign AI capabilities,” Huang said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Canada.
Such efforts promise to enhance domestic computing capabilities, turbocharging local economies and unlocking local talent.
“Their natural resource, data, should be refined and produced for their country. The recognition of sovereign AI capabilities is global,” Huang told Bloomberg.
Huang’s conversation with the group of Canadian AI leaders, or “four heroes of mine,” as he described them — Raquel Urtasun of Waabi, Brendan Frey of Deep Genomics, University of Toronto Professor Alan Aspuru-Guzik and Aiden Gomez of Cohere — highlighted both Canada’s enormous contributions and its growing capability as a leader in AI.
“Each one of you,” Huang remarked, addressing the panelists and noting that every one of them is affiliated with the University of Toronto, “are doing foundational work in some of the largest industries in the world.”
“Let’s seize the moment,” Champagne said as he kicked off the panel discussion. “We need to move from fear to opportunity to build trust so that people understand what AI can do for them.”
“It’s about inspiring young researchers to continue to do research here in Canada and about creating opportunities for them after they graduate to be able to start companies here,” Huang said.
The panelists echoed Huang’s optimism, providing insights into how AI is reshaping industries, society and technology.
Gomez, reflecting on the democratization of AI, shared his optimism for the future, stating that it’s “an exciting time to explore product space,” highlighting the vast opportunities for innovation and disruption within the AI landscape.
Cohere’s world-class large language models help enterprises build powerful, secure applications that search, understand meaning and converse in text.
Gomez said the future lies in communities of researchers and entrepreneurs able to leverage AI to bridge technological divides and foster inclusivity.
“I owe everything to this community, the people on the stage and in this room,” he said, acknowledging the collaborative spirit that fuels innovation in AI technologies.
Urtasun highlighted the imperative of safety in autonomous technology as a non-negotiable standard, emphasizing its role in saving lives and shaping the future of transportation.
“Safety should not be proprietary. This technology is a driver, and it’s going to save so many lives,” she said.
Frey underscored the transformative impact of AI in RNA biology. He said that, while “it’s taken quite a bit of time,” at Deep Genomics, he and his colleagues have built the world’s first foundation model for RNA biology, envisioning a future where drug discovery is accelerated, bringing life-saving therapies to market more efficiently.
“If we’re highly successful, best-case scenario, it means that we will be able to design molecules that are safe, and highly efficacious, without doing any cell model studies without doing any animal studies … and getting drugs that save our loved ones rapidly and safely,” Frey said.
Aspuru-Guzik pointed to the fusion of AI with quantum computing and materials science as a frontier for sustainable solutions, emphasizing the importance of creating a conducive environment for innovation in Canada.
“We want to build it here in Canada,” he said.
His work exemplifies the potential of AI to accelerate the development of new materials, driving forward a sustainable future.
Together, these visions articulate a future where AI enhances societal well-being, drives scientific advancement and fosters an inclusive, global community of innovation.
“AI is about the greatest opportunity to close the technology divide and be inclusive, for everybody to enjoy the technology revolution,” Huang said.
For more on the fast-growing impact of AI across the globe, visit NVIDIA’s AI nations hub.
Featured image credit: Christian Raul Hernandez, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.