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Why The U.S. Should Care About Canada's Tech Future

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Aug 24, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

A.I. is coming and it's not just the U.S. who will see this massive change in staffing, talent, and skill. Fortune just recently published an article covering the move towards A.I. in Canada. Quebec, more specifically Montreal, is seeing actual growth in its research for artificial intelligence. Google established a new A.I. research group in its Montreal Office back in November of last year. In addition, they pledged to invest $4.5 million over three years in an A.I. research lab at the University of Montreal. Besides Google, Microsoft doubled the size of its local A.I. research group  and pledged $6 million to the University of Montreal. It's clear that Canada is doing the work it requires to be a key player in this A.I. future. 

Some of that investment by Google will fund AI expert, Yoshua Bengio. His research, along with Geoffrey Hinton and Yann Lecun's research will move artificial intelligence forward. The work they're doing is in a type of AI technique called deep learning. This technique is great for big data and patterns and has already helped computers recognize objects in pictures. This is all possible after a $213 million federal A.I. grant given in September to research labs all over Montreal. That grant also includes money for a new AI institute called IVADO. This would be a mini Silicon Valley in Montreal, according to Bengio. 

It's also interesting to think about how the U.S. has set up the table for Canada's success in tech. H-1B visa restrictions and other immigration issues will cause complications for tech companies in the U.S., allowing talent to slip away and go elsewhere. Canada is hoping that they will be thought of first in this struggle, as it does welcome all people from every corner of the world, including the best and brightest engineers and programmers.  

Besides the proximity to tech hubs, Canada is also home to tech companies like Shopify, Kik, and Houtsuite. In addition, Fortune reports that a lot of U.S. companies like Facebook, Boeing, and Amazon all have offices in Vancouver and use those locations to house foreign workers who can collaborate with coworkers in California and Washington. Even if the U.S. policies are up in the air, Canadian offices will certainly see a lot of valuable talent. This should inspire U.S. tech companies to heat up the competition and hire more top talent.

In fact, in the last ten years, BC employment of skilled technology workers has grown 27%. BC has made it relatively easy for U.S. tech companies to open offices in Canada, even going as far as to provide financial incentives, working with federal governments, and expediting visas for foreign workers. Now, Canada as a nation is using this model at a federal level and issuing immigration reforms (Global Skills Strategy) that will fast-track visas and help companies open offices in Canada. If their government is getting involved, what can ours do to close the A.I. talent gap

There currently is no global capital for VR and AR, and so Canada hopes to take that spot. In order for the U.S. to remain a contender for this spot, they will need to amp up their research and education for A.I. Just like the race to the moon, we must be on top of the ball, always looking forward. Allow your company to see past what is needed now. Staff for the future and beyond.  When you're ready to make a leap into the future, contact ICS for your staffing needs. We know the current and future climate of industries and are ready to take on any challenges. We may not be able to change the legislation in place, but we can put in an effort to better our existing efforts. 

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