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AI Academic Warns on Brain Drain to Tech Groups


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As artificial intelligence (AI) professionals increasingly seek positions within major technology companies, the exodus threatens to stall academic research in the field, according to Yoshua Bengio. The University of Montreal professor helped to pioneer deep learning, a method that models how the human brain functions and has spurred advances in language understanding and image recognition by computers. Bengio helped develop deep learning technology with Geoff Hinton and Yann LeCun, both former academics who have since moved on to work for Google and Facebook, respectively. Another early deep learning expert, Andrew Ng, formerly of Stanford University, now is employed by Chinese Internet search company Baidu.

Despite the brain drain of AI talent away from academia, the city of Montreal has maintained its place as the center of AI research with 1,500 researchers working in the field, thanks to Bengio's work at the University of Montreal and that of researchers at McGill University. Bengio says he chose to remain in academia to gain broader impact for his work.

Now, Google is planning to set up a deep learning research center in Montreal to capitalize on studies being done in that area. "People don't realize the way deep learning is working right now is capturing very superficial aspects of our world," Bengio says.

From Financial Times 
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