Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard June/July 2017

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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From le: Julien Filion (AI scientist and developer), Francis Bisson (former collaborator, currently soware developer at Google), Philipe Bellefeuille (AI researcher and scientist), Simon Chamberland (AI scientist and developer), Froduald Kabanza (Founder and AI scientist). T TEChNOlOgy WATCh JUNE/JULY 2017 37 I t feels like every year some new wave in technology comes into vogue. When we started OMX, it was all about niche marketplaces – usually the "eBay of something obscure and specific." When I was on CBC's Next Gen Dragon's Den, it felt like every startup that pitched was the "Uber of something" such as food delivery, at home cooking or prescription delivery. learning and intelligence This year, undoubtedly, we have been hearing a lot about "machine learning" and "artificial intelligence". The launch of the Vector Institute, a research facil- ity devoted to AI, was announced in Toronto a month ago, and then Uber followed immediately after, announcing they would be opening an AI research hub for driverless cars, also in Toronto. Those terms seem to get thrown around a lot, but I think it is really important we get an understanding of how they can specifically be adopted into our processes and supply chain across the country to make industry more competitive and bring better solutions to end users in the defence sector. Let's back up a little. What exactly is "machine learning" for starters? Wikipe- dia, the source of all knowledge, defines it as "the subfield of computer science that, according to Arthur Samuel in 1959, gives 'computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.' Artificial intelligence, however, goes a step further and is defined as "intelli- gence exhibited by machines." In com- puter science, the field of AI research defines itself as the study of "intelligent agents," which can be defined as "any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal." Far too often the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics cognitive func- tions that humans associate with other human minds, such as learning and prob- lem solving, which I believe is the root cause of a lot of people's concerns about the field of AI and what this means for our future, especially if we hit that scary intersection of man and machine. Singularity The term "singularity" is also often thrown around, which is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superin- telligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfath- omable changes to human civilization. Es- sentially, if we develop machines that can learn on their own, they will far surpass human thinking and then remove them- selves completely from human control. Stephen Hawking commented on Reddit that "if AI becomes better at designing AI than humans, we'll hit an intelligence explosion that will ultimately result in ma- chines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails." The father of the singularity hypothesis, Ray Kurzweil, estimated this would take place by 2045. This intelligence explosion would change everything about our world as we know it. And we would be stupid to ignore its possibility. If the creepy "machine takeover" is too much for you, then there is this complete- ly different world that lives somewhere in between today's reality and one where we are snails in comparison to our comput- ers. Besides the fact that there are many scholars who push the singularity out to up to 1000 years from now. As my hero Walter Isaacson remarked "the 0-1 (black and white) nature of machine program- ming is very complimentary with human thinking, and machines will still always serve humans." Just because they will have more processing capability than us, does not mean they will develop consciousness and take over. I believe that in Canada, and in the defence sector, they have the ability to be our biggest competitive ad- vantage. And I believe those areas of com- petitive advantage will be primarily in non- sexy, traditional areas of the supply chain. Areas that, with applied machine learning and AI, will catapult to increased efficiency and capability. local heroes So, I sought out some of the heroes in Can- ada, those innovators working in this area of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and talked to them about how their tech- nologies could be ap- plied to move the dial in defence. While most think of AI as being something new, it's been over 10 years that Menya Solutions has been developing AI solutions for the Canadian Navy. They typically work in collaboration with key de- fence contractors such as Lockheed Martin Canada, Thales Canada, CAE, MDA, and Fujitsu Canada. Froduald Kabanza, a profes- sor of artificial intelligence at the Université de Sherbrooke, founded Menya Solutions in 2007, and the company currently has 15

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