From an ancestral perspective, I’ve technically lived in Alberta since 1908, when my Great Grandfather’s horse died in Edmonton (pop.9350) en route to Vancouver from Halifax. Shortly after his arrival and only three years before the incorporation of his first business, Alberta’s reliance on oil began its long and tumultuous, boom-bust, one-hundred and twenty-five-year history.
If you have lived in Alberta over the past century, the price of oil has likely been a dominant discussion topic around your dinner table, and has become the single best indicator for business success in this province - regardless of whether you work at an engineering firm or a Boston Pizza… And if I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Please God, give me one more oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away next time”, I’d be “Oil Executive Rich” (which is a real term here BTW).
Alberta has made some valiant attempts to diversify away from our reliance on oil (approx. 16% of our GDP). From policy formation (i.e. the provincial government provided loans and equity stakes to companies in the non-energy sector in the 1990s) to subsidies (i.e. 1.8B in loans to non-oil-industry companies in the 1990s). However, almost all of these well-intentioned attempts have faltered. Every time the price of oil spikes, our massive oil-related industry rises to the challenge of fulfilling increased demand… despite tremendous social, environmental, and pipeline access pressures.
Meanwhile, from humble beginnings in 2002 at the University of Alberta, an institution called Amii has quietly been building an industry that could very well represent our best option for diversification AND for innovation within our dominant O&G sector.
Recently and without fan-fare, Amii has become one of the top three globally recognized non-profit research institutes supporting artificial intelligence and machine learning (which is, according to Stephen Hawking, “the most important technology the world has EVER seen - including the internet).
Amii’s mission is simple: To make AI and ML the primary drivers of sustainable growth for Alberta’s economy.
As a part of achieving this mission and with tremendous strides being made across various industries, Amii is proud to be hosting the First Annual AI-Week in Edmonton May 24-27th, 2022.
If you care about the future of this world-changing technology, if you are curious about the recent discoveries of countless applications across all industries (including energy), if you are concerned about AI from an ethics perspective, or if you want to scale up your internal IT department… then I’ll meet you there.
This landmark event will feature symposiums, keynotes, and social mixers and will be attended by 300+ businesses (including representatives from Alberta’s tech sector, our regional business community, and global tech giants like Google DeepMind) along with 500+ AI experts from around the world - all looking for opportunities to collaborate with each other and connect with potential employers in Alberta.
This annual event will build the AI talent pool, enable global connections, and amplify this vital cornerstone of Alberta’s current and future economy.
“Over the past 20 years, we’ve invested in Alberta’s world-class AI community in order to secure our province’s role as leaders in the global future economy. We’re thrilled to present AI Week to celebrate the successes of the past two decades and launch our bold vision for Alberta’s future. There is a massive opportunity for AI and machine learning to drive the diversification of our economy and accelerate competitive advantages for businesses right here in Alberta. We’ve built the foundations, and now’s the time for us all to move forward together into a prosperous future.” – Cam Linke, CEO, Amii
I invite you to take this opportunity to join the likes of Telus, ATB, BDC, RBC, CBRE, Google DeepMind and Explore Edmonton to rally behind and support this massive catalyst in Alberta’s long fight for economic diversification. (*Note - sponsorship dollars primarily fund AI-Week’s bursary program to help bring 500 of the top AI talent from around the world to Edmonton for this conference).
Visit www.ai-week.ca for registration, engagement, and sponsorship details.
And please reach out to me if you are interested in exploring specific ways that you or your organization could support AI-Week as a potential partner.