Sophia, an artificial intelligence-based robot, takes questions onstage at a Toronto innovation show on April 30, 2018. （Photo/China News Service）
Experts from Ontario and China are seeking more collaboration in artificial intelligence and robotics.
On Wednesday, they attended the Ontario-China AI and Robotics Collaboration Workshop, co-hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science and the Consulate General of China in Toronto.
Bringing together academic and industry representatives to share research and commercial collaboration opportunities along with the latest trends, the workshop also attracted delegates from leading Chinese universities and technology companies.
"I have a deep impression of Canada's AI and robotics technologies," said Huang Tiejun, head of the delegates and chair of the Department of Computer Science at Peking University. "Canada has the world's top experts and technology in the area, and we expect future cooperation," said Huang, who shared a presentation on "Next Generation AI & Brain-like Computing" at the workshop.
"The event is a great opportunity for Canada and China to collaborate and develop AI and robotics technologies," said Elissa Strome, executive director of Pan-Canadian Strategy at Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. "There is great research strength and expertise in both countries and tremendous opportunities for us to bring these together to do even bigger and better."
Establishing science and technology relationships with China is a priority for Ontario, Strome said. In 2008, 2013 and 2017, the Ontario provincial government and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China signed three rounds of memorandums of understanding on research and innovation for a total of 15 years.
A joint research-funding program, the Ontario-China Research and Innovation Fund (OCRIF), was launched in 2011 to support bilateral strategic research collaboration projects by investing up to $2 million ($1 million each) to support strategic bilateral research collaborations.
"This year we are looking at AI and robotics. Both the governments of Ontario and China have identified AI and robotics as strategic areas of focus for research and commercialization collaboration," said Peter McFadzean, manager, partnerships at the Ontario Centres of Excellence.
"We've done energy storage previously and also biomaterials previously. Over perhaps two to three years, we look for milestones along the way, and we look for successful outcomes and the commercial opportunities in both Ontario and China," McFadzean said.
"Here we can see great opportunities in the collaboration, but it seems that it will take quite a long time, at least half a year, to start up the cooperative projects due to differences from two sides," said Don Qiu, director of the Case Department at the Institute for Data Science, Tsinghua University.
"We are thinking of building a communications platform to work together to figure out the problem and speed up the collaboration," Don said.
According to Consul General He Wei, opening-up and innovation are a trend in society and the basic component of China's rapid development over the past 40 years. Last year, China released a new AI development plan to further accelerate the pace of AI research and industrialization.