Social media behemoth Facebook has unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) research lab in the Canadian city of Montreal, representing the company’s first R&D investment in Canada.
The lab will become operational with about 10 researchers, with Facebook planning to increase the headcount to 30 in the coming years.
Joelle Pineau, Co-director of McGill University’s Reasoning and Learning Lab, who reportedly specializes in an AI branch called reinforcement learning, will head the lab.
Pineau has previously worked on an AI project designed to develop a smart wheelchair for people with mobility impairments.
“The Montreal lab will house research scientists and engineers working on a wide range of ambitious AI research projects, but it will also have a special focus on reinforcement learning and dialog systems,” Facebook stated in a blog post.
Montreal, the largest city in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec, is said to have one of the largest concentrations of AI developers in the Americas. There are more than 200 researchers working on AI projects at two of its universities. In addition, there are nearly 100 technology startups in the province focused on artificial intelligence.
The social media firm is also investing about US$5.7 million to help Montreal bolster its AI ecosystem further, agreeing to support research activities at the Montreal Institute of Learning Algorithms and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Earlier this year, the Canadian federal government pledged US$102 million to build AI excellence centers in Montreal and Edmonton. Quebec’s provincial government has also set aside US$82 million to fund research activities in artificial intelligence.