Alberta: A Leader in Artificial Intelligence

When the possibilities are as high as the sky, and the impacts as deep as the roots of the Rockies, you need to make sure you tell the story right, and loud enough to reach those who really need to hear it.

Robert Simpson

Robert Simpson

President & CEO

For the last 20 years, Robert has specialized in strategic communication and public relations, focusing his passion for storytelling to help organizations achieve greater impact. As PR Associates’ leader, Robert plays a role in collaborating with clients and our teams to develop strategies and create experiences that deepen audience engagement.

The future of AI is being written under Western skies in a very real way, thanks to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute.

Also known as Amii, the institute is a hub for scientists, stakeholders and entrepreneurs — a place where connections are a currency for innovation.

Through these connections, Amii creates the ecosystem required for research and discovery to thrive: a social fabric of science and ideas, underpinning a community on the cutting-edge of technology’s most tantalizing frontier.

And all of it anchored, and unfolding every day, in the province of Alberta.

Being entrusted to tell Amii’s story to the world is a privilege for our team here at PR Associates — all the more so because of the enormous, good Amii’s work can do for that world.

Amii is the academic home of 30 world-leading researchers, many of them AI Chairs with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Together as a community of scientists, and through the leadership of Chief Scientific Advisor Richard S. Sutton — himself a pioneer in the field — Amii has built a reputation for its expertise in machine intelligence, and reinforcement learning.

Their research explores how machines can be made to perceive, act and think in much the same ways that human minds do, like recognizing patterns and making decisions.

By giving a machine a place within a process, or a function within a system, the machine can deliver a level of precision and repetition that would be impossible for a human.

With each repetition, the machine learns a little more, and understands more deeply.

In this way, machine intelligence and reinforcement learning can be applied to almost any situation under the sun and disrupt it to its core.

From smart applications to drive sustainability in the oil and gas sector, to improving precision in diagnostic imaging for health-care practitioners, AI can take many forms, and its potential holds promise for countless industries.


Impact by the numbers

By bringing together some of the brightest minds leading the field of AI with innovators, entrepreneurs and policymakers across a range of sectors, Amii is able to have an exponential impact — creating a ripple effect that isn’t contained to a single company or field.

Amii works as a catalyst: spreading knowledge, delivering training, and helping the initial spark of a great idea to find the support it needs to grow into something more.

To date, alumni of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute have gone on to raise more than $600 million in venture financing.

Amii has worked with hundreds of scientists and contributed to hundreds of research papers. They’ve partnered with dozens of companies and worked with 80 machine learning technicians to give them advanced training and job-ready AI skills.

While Amii can boast to having reached nearly 100,000 AI practitioners worldwide, part of the beauty of its work is how it brings the impact back to Amii’s home community of Alberta.

In addition to attracting some of the top talent in the AI field, Amii also has a graduate retention rate of more than 60 per cent.

Of all the venture capital that Amii’s partner companies have raised, $450 million — or three quarters — was secured by Canadian-based companies.

Amii is also a national leader: one of three Centres of Excellence for AI in this country, as supported by the $125-million Pan-Canadian AI Strategy launched in 2017.

Having a recognized leader in this burgeoning field right here in Alberta, literally in our own backyard, is an incredible advantage for the many companies to come to Amii for support in adopting and integrating these technologies into their daily operations.


PRA telling the story

When the possibilities are as high as the sky, and the impacts as deep as the roots of the Rockies, you need to make sure you tell the story right, and loud enough to reach those who really need to hear it.

As expert PR practitioners, our approach to telling the story of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute starts with making the ‘limitless’ feel ‘immediate’ to audience members.

It can be hard to grasp just how transformational can be the impacts from Amii’s work — so it’s our job to make that meaningful to those hearing it for the first time.

And the stakes are high: whether Amii’s research will have game-changing results, or whether it will sizzle and fade away, ultimately depends in large part on investment decisions made by government and business leaders.

As a critical technology for Canada’s future, artificial intelligence and machine learning is at a crossroads.

In 2017, with the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy the federal government launched that year, Canada took another step further ahead of the pack, becoming the first country in the world to create an AI strategy.

Will our country continue to build on this competitive advantage? Or will the excitement of discovery — not to mention all the economic spin-offs and innovative benefits that come with it — drift away to other shores, and other research centres?

That’s the power of a powerful story, told well, and that’s how much hangs in the balance.

For our team at PR Associates, it’s another reminder why our job means so much more than snagging a headline.



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