The Pulse: March 27, 2023

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  • -4°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of flurries in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 4. Wind chill minus 19 in the morning and minus 6 in the afternoon. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue in honour of the funeral for the fallen EPS officers. (details)
  • 3-4: The Edmonton Oilers were defeated by the Vegas Golden Knights in overtime on March 25. (details)
  • 8pm: The Oilers (41-23-9) play the Arizona Coyotes (27-34-13) at Mullett Arena. (details)

Eleven young people surround Nate Glubish, Cam Linke, and Laura Kilcrease in the Amii office

Province invests $30M in Amii to further AI adoption

By Colin Gallant

A $30-million investment from the province will allow Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) to further its efforts to bring AI out of the academy and into industry, says the organization's CEO.

"As Amii advances the science of AI, we seek to make the field more approachable by acting as a translator; translating that research into industry impact and the shape of talent development, commercialization, and ecosystem development," Cam Linke said at the March 24 funding announcement.

Laura Kilcrease, CEO of Alberta Innovates, spoke to some specific metrics she expects from the investment.

"There (are) results that we're looking at over the next four years to include over 1,000 companies being trained in the use of artificial intelligence … There'll be at least 120 startups that will participate with Amii to get support and help create products that are data- and AI-driven," she said. "There's going to be more than 2,500 Albertans trained in AI — and I think that is a low estimate of what, really, is to come."

Commercialization is a word on many lips when it comes to AI, and Amii has faced questions about it before. Linke highlighted work with Calgary's Attabotics to improve its robotic supply chain system and with Edmonton's EZ Ops to reduce expenses and emissions from oil and gas wells as examples of the kind of work Amii will continue to pursue.

"The core thing is solving those big challenges that industry has in being able to grow their capacity in AI," he told Taproot.

The funding will also help Amii's work-integrated learning opportunities continue to deepen Alberta's talent pool by placing "top-tier technical talent on industry-facing engagements while those participants continue their graduate studies," Linke said.

The latest announcement comes just a few months after Amii invested $30 million into the University of Alberta to support the creation of 20 new faculty positions in AI.

Photo: Technology and Innovation Minister Nate Glubish, Amii CEO Cam Linke, and Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease stand with past and present participants in Amii's work-integrated learning program at an announcement on March 24, 2023. (Chris Onciul/Amii)


Headlines: March 27, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Several road and pedway closures, along with other travel interruptions, will be in effect March 27 for the regimental funeral of Const. Travis Jordan and Const. Brett Ryan at Rogers Place. The city says commuters should expect detours and delays beginning at 8:30am and lasting until about 5pm, whether they're driving, cycling or taking transit. The procession will begin at the Alberta legislature around 11:45am followed by the funeral at 1pm. Parking and access to businesses along the route will be impacted. Edmonton Transit Service is offering free rides to and from downtown for anyone attending the funeral or paying their respects along the procession route. Funeral attendance is limited to family, special guests, Edmonton Police Service members, and others from the within law enforcement, emergency services, and military communities.
  • Edmonton Police Association President Curtis Hoople drew attention to the impacts policing has on officers and their families in the wake of the killings of Edmonton Police Service constables Brett Ryan and Travis Jordan. "The human being that wears the uniform is prone to emotional trauma and damage just like the people they serve," Hoople wrote in a statement, adding that officers who continue to go to work following the murders of their colleagues show "resilience and commitment."
  • CBC Edmonton compiled data looking at on-demand transit ridership that showed the service is gaining in popularity since it launched in April 2021. An October 2022 survey completed by VIA, which is the city's on-demand transit app provider, showed that nearly half of all users are between 13 and 24 years old, and 73% of users do not have a personal vehicle. The survey also found that 84% of respondents support an expansion in service to prevent long wait times. In December, council approved $42.9 million in additional funding for on-demand transit in the 2023-2026 operating budget. Daniel Vriend, director of planning and scheduling with Edmonton Transit Service, said his department is looking at ways to expand service and reduce wait times.
  • The Edmonton Public Library is extending its Sunday hours to better accommodate patrons. Beginning March 26, most branches will open two hours earlier, operating from 10am to 5pm. The change was made possible with support from council and in response to public demand for more library access on Sundays.
  • The Edmonton Public School Board and the Edmonton Catholic School Division say additional funding is needed for new schools as student enrolment growth is projected to climb significantly in the coming years. The Catholic school division recently approved its 2024-27 capital plan, which highlights the urgent need for six new schools and one replacement school. The division said in a release that as of Sept. 29, 2022, 45,000 students were registered in its schools and projects enrolment will grow to 50,000 students by 2026. "We cannot address our enrolment pressures until new schools are built," said board chair Sandra Palazzo. The public school division projects 18,000 new students in the next three to five years, which would result in 14,000 to 20,000 fewer spaces than students. The provincial budget includes funding for the construction of one K-9 school in Edgemont, which is not expected to open before 2026.
  • Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre has become home to several unconventional and niche tenants in an attempt to attract foot traffic as consumers shift their shopping habits away from malls. Among its tenants are local clubs Radio Control Racers Edmonton and the Edmonton Train Collectors Association, and boutiques such as Africart, which offers African clothing and art, and Priya Fashions, which specializes in Indian and Islamic bridal wear. The mall also offers an outdoor ice rink in the winter and a vegetable garden in one of its storefronts. General Manager Tammy Abbott said the pandemic forced the shopping centre to approach business differently as consumer habits changed. "We've had to look out of the box and bring new concepts to the plate," Abbott said.
  • The Edmonton Oilers showed their support for Pride Night on March 25, using rainbow coloured Pride Tape on their sticks during warmups. "I know here in Edmonton we strongly believe hockey is for everyone," said team captain Connor McDavid. Kristopher Wells, a professor at MacEwan University, said the decision of some NHL teams and players to not participate in Pride Night events was disappointing, but added that the real story of the weekend was "the overwhelming number of players who are in support."
  • Beaners Fun Cuts, a children's hair salon, is leading a fundraising campaign for the second year in a row in support of Children's Autism Services of Edmonton. The organization provides respite support for parents and a summer camp for kids with autism. The fundraiser will continue until the end of April.
Blue and purple flowers tied to a post with emergency vehicles in the background

Coming up this week: March 27-31, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

The week begins with a funeral for two fallen officers. Other events include conversations about sound, harm reduction, and city-building; some boredom-breaking activities for Spring Break; an inaugural event for female founders; and a chance to nerd out.

Photo: Monday's regimental funeral procession will start at the legislature grounds at about 11:45am and make its way to Rogers Place. (City of Edmonton/Facebook)