The Pulse: May 13, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 16°C: Increasing cloudiness early in the morning. 30% chance of showers late in the morning and in the afternoon. High 16. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 4-2: The Oilers defeated the Kings in Los Angeles, forcing Game 7 in Edmonton on Saturday night. (details)

An image of Edmonton's skyline, superimposed with green, blue, purple, and other colours

Amii helps brewery harness AI to make and market beer

By Emily Rendell-Watson

The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) and Blindman Brewing have combined their skills to launch a new beer, just in time for AI Week. The May Long Double IPA, which the Lacombe-based craft brewery releases yearly, features a beer label design that's generated with the help of artificial intelligence.

The technique is called neural style transfer, which leverages the power of deep neural networks to synthesize a new image by mixing the content of one image with the style of another.

"You can mimic the style of a particular artist ... and then superimpose that or combine it with imagery that you want to generate in that style," explained David Chan, Amii's project lead for industry. "We used that technique and applied it to landmarks in and around Edmonton."

This isn't the first time Amii and Blindman Brewing have applied AI to craft beer. Blindman has also been working on reducing its carbon footprint through Amii's Reducing Emissions through Machine Intelligence (REMI) program. The program, which is funded through the end of 2022 by a provincial government grant, helps businesses use AI technology to make decisions about how to reduce greenhouse gases while also improving operations and increasing revenue. Kirk Zembal, co-founder of Blindman Brewing, said participating in the program over the past year has helped bolster the company's ongoing CO2 capture and reuse project.

"When you ferment things to make alcohol, you're producing ethanol, and you're also producing CO2. Typically, that CO2 just goes to the atmosphere, but often you're also using CO2 to carbonate things like beer," Zembal told Bloom, Taproot's innovation podcast.

"You can create a little circular loop in your own process where you capture the CO2 you use, you clean it up a bit, and then you reuse it in your own process. It reduces costs and emissions, and maybe even increases quality."

Zembal and his team are relying on AI and machine learning to ensure the process is efficient and that the quality of CO2 being produced is top-notch.

"Fermentation is a biological process — it requires living things. And as we all know, living things can be a bit fickle. We're hoping that AI and ML can help us understand what our yeast is doing and how it's feeling on any given day," Zembal said.

Blindman Brewing has been working on its CO2 capture technology for five years, and Zembal said the brewery will be the first to use this innovation in Canada. It is in the midst of a regulatory review with the provincial government to certify use of the technology, and the hope is to make it available to breweries across the country.

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Construction of a $96-million interchange at 65 Avenue in Leduc — with an overpass over the Queen Elizabeth II Highway and new on and off ramps — will begin this summer and continue for the next three years. "This increased road access will support our multi-modal cargo operations and growth as a global logistics hub for Western Canada," said Tom Ruth, president and CEO of Edmonton International Airport which contributed some money to the engineering and design part of the project.
  • Aurora Cannabis is closing its Aurora Sky facility in Edmonton — once considered one of the company's flagship facilities — as part of cost-cutting efforts following a $1-billion net loss in the company's most recent quarter. Aurora expects to save $7 million per quarter as a result of the closure. "We will continue to employ a talented team in Alberta, operate an Edmonton office and remain committed to our business in Canada as a whole," Michelle Lefler, the company's vice president of communications, told Global News.
  • The Edmonton Public Library has launched a new pilot program called Ready. Set. READ! to support childhood literacy in 2,000 families across 13 neighbourhoods. The program, which delivers one book a month to participating children up to the age of five, costs $660,000 over five years to run, CTV News reports.
  • The overdose deaths of two inmates at the Edmonton Remand Centre have prompted a provincial court judge to recommend that all jail staff undergo random security checks and drug screening. Lawyer Amanda Hart-Dowhun, president of the Alberta Prison Justice Society, supports the recommendations. "The current approach of assuming that inmates are the only people who will smuggle drugs into a remand centre is naive at best," she told CBC News.
  • Connor McDavid is a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the NHL's most valuable player award, along with Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. McDavid, who never went more than three games without a point this season, won the same award last year. He also won the Art Ross Trophy this year for being the league's top scorer.
  • As the Edmonton Stingers prepare for the upcoming Canadian Elite Basketball League season, president Reed Clarke appeared on Global News to talk about what fans can expect. They'll play the Niagara River Lions — who Edmonton defeated in last season's final to become back-to-back champions — on May 27 at the Edmonton EXPO Centre to kick things off.
  • Garth Brooks's second Edmonton show sold out in forty-five minutes after going on sale May 12. Brooks took to Twitter to share his "love, love, love" for YEG while some fans expressed disappointment for missing the boat once again. Brooks told CTV News that Edmonton, the only Canadian stop on his upcoming world tour, turned up at sale time in greater numbers than any other city.
Yellow and orange flowers called Gaillardia aristata growing in a tangle of grass

Weekend agenda: May 13-15, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

Whether you're looking to get a start in the garden, do a little spring-cleaning, swap your bike or paddle equipment, or just relax, here are a few events to consider this weekend.

Photo: The Edmonton Native Plant Society is among the vendors at the Bloomin' Garden Sale on Alberta Avenue on Saturday.