The Pulse: Nov. 25, 2022

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  • 4°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers late in the morning and early afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning. High plus 4. Wind chill minus 8 in the morning. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Red/Orange/Yellow: The High Level Bridge will be lit red, orange, and yellow for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. (details)
  • Nov. 26, 11am: The Edmonton Oilers (10-10-0) play the New York Rangers (10-7-4) at Madison Square Garden. (details)

Nicole Janssen works on a computer at a table in a common area at AltaML

Trustworthiness key to persuading businesses to adopt AI, says AltaML leader

By Karen Unland

Artificial intelligence has applications in practically every area of business, but many people are reluctant to try it because they don't trust it, says AltaML's Nicole Janssen.

That poses a problem for anybody developing AI solutions, suggests the co-founder and co-CEO of the Edmonton-based applied AI company.

"AI is seen as this black box thing that's taking people's jobs, and it's building killer robots. That's what the media and Hollywood has told us it is," Janssen told Taproot. "And so in order to change that mindset, you have to have this transparency with that end user as to why they're being told to do this, why this decision is justified, why this prediction is valid. Because that will build that trust that's needed in order to actually adopt AI."

AltaML made the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 and Canada's Top Growing Companies after recording three-year revenue growth of 2,309%. The company has more than 400 use cases under its belt in fields as wide-ranging as medical diagnostics, investment strategy, wildfire detection, emissions control, and preventative maintenance. So it's not that her company can't find work.

But globally speaking, Janssen said, only about one-fifth of AI solutions get operationalized, which leaves a lot on the table. "A big part of that is that lack of trust."

Building trust is core to the business case for responsible AI that she has been promoting in her role at the helm of AltaML.

Developing a diverse, ethical, and business-savvy workforce in AI is also key to her mission. AltaML's Talent Accelerators program has recruited, hired, and trained 200 data science interns to fill the tech talent gap. The contact with real-world situations is invaluable, said Janssen, who also sits on the board of Mitacs, an organization that connects the private sector and post-secondary institutions to solve problems.

"We're building great talent in Canada in academia. But when they get out, so much of that technical talent doesn't yet have that mindset of 'Is this valuable to business? Is this worth pursuing?' And so this internship allows them to get that experience."

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Headlines: Nov. 25, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • Dr. Sandy Dong, a local emergency room physician, is one front-line worker calling for the province to collect data on amputations due to frostbite among people experiencing homelessness. Alberta Health Services said in an email that it does not track amputations from frostbite, but Dong said he saw more such cases in 2021 than ever before in his two decades practising in Edmonton. He said amputees without shelter are especially vulnerable since it makes healing and mobility more challenging, and impacts their ability to work. "Now they have no income, and then they're back into the cycle of poverty," he said. Judith Gale, with the Edmonton chapter of the Bear Clan Patrol outreach group said she is seeing increasingly more people with missing fingers and toes, describing the loss as "a life sentence."
  • Dr. Mark Joffe, Alberta's new chief medical officer of health, wrote a letter with Dr. Laura McDougall, the senior medical officer of health, warning parents of a heavy flu season ahead. "We are concerned that this influenza season will be more severe than we have seen in years and that illness will continue to disrupt school, sports, and upcoming holiday gatherings," they wrote. The province is recommending the flu shot to all children aged six months and older. The vaccine is free and appointments can be made on the AHS website, through Health Link (811), or by talking to a pharmacist or doctor's clinic.
  • A group of Edmontonians held a rally on Nov. 24 to call for more support for Okîsikow (Angel) Way, which is the Cree name given to a section of 101A Avenue near 97 Street to honour women and gender-diverse people who have experienced violence. Event organizer April Eve Wiberg and the Stolen Sisters & Brothers Action Movement are asking for Okîsikow Way to become an official mailing address, get new and upgraded signposts, and have an art installation. Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson also attended the rally.
  • A wildfire monitoring satellite built by members of AlbertaSat, a club of students and faculty at the University of Alberta, is heading into orbit this February. The Ex-Alta 2 satellite, which is the size of a loaf of bread and known as a "CubeSat," is a follow-up to Ex-Alta 1, and was inspired by the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. Thomas Ganley, a project manager with AlbertaSat, said the satellite will collect wildfire data from around Canada and the world and share it for free on the club's website. It heads to the Canadian Space Agency this week before being shipped to NASA ahead of its launch.
  • Alberta Health Services is bringing back its Toys for Tickets campaign, which lets people donate a new toy in lieu of paying a parking fine issued at an AHS parking facility. The campaign applies to tickets issued between Nov. 14 and Dec. 12. The toys must be new, in their original packaging, unwrapped and have a value of at least $25. AHS will stop accepting toys after Dec. 16.
  • Craig JB Henderson, the former chair of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association (EDBA) and architect behind the Winston Churchill Square redevelopment that marked Edmonton's centennial in 2004, wrote a letter to Postmedia to say he is "disappointed with the decision to delete the Christmas Tree" from the square. "History should be respected and embraced in our urban context, not ignored," said Henderson. "I look forward to seeing the tree in its rightful location next year." Mack Male and Troy Pavlek, hosts of Taproot's Speaking Municipally podcast, spoke to the EDBA's executive director Puneeta McBryan about the "treegate" controversy in Episode 199.
  • Alphonso Davies shared his thoughts on Team Canada's 1-0 loss against Belgium in their opening group match for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. "In all, I was a little bit disappointed, but we're definitely, definitely proud of how we played," he said, adding that stepping onto the pitch was "a dream come true for everyone in this white shirt." Canada's next match is against Croatia on Nov. 27.
  • Edmonton Stingers head coach and general manager Jermaine Small has left the team to focus full-time on his job as head coach of the men's basketball program at the University of Lethbridge. "We appreciate the contributions Jermaine Small made to the Edmonton Stingers organization, which were highlighted by building a team that won the CEBL championship in 2020 and successfully defending it in 2021," said Stingers president Reed Clarke. The Stingers finished sixth in the 2022 CEBL season.
A tote bag bearing the design of a large-eyed crow holding a stick, with the words Royal Bison Arts + Craft Fair

Weekend agenda: Nov. 25-27, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers the last chance to catch a high-energy coming-of-age story, a first chance to check in on a beloved artisanal market, a kids-only shopping experience at the antique mall, plus all kinds of music — choral, devotional, orchestral, and ambient.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup.

Photo: Mary Roach designed the Royal Bison's Winter 2022 tote bag, which will be available at the door this weekend and Dec. 2-4. (Instagram)