Guelph artificial intelligence reseacher named among Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 | AI

University of Guelph professor Dr. Graham Taylor wants people to know robots are not taking over the world despite how some Hollywood movies depict artificial intelligence.

Taylor, who runs a machine learning group in the School of Engineering, was named among Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2018 on Wednesday.

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His work focuses on problems in AI, not just at the U of G, but also at Toronto’s Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and he’s also the academic director for Next AI, a not-for-profit organization for AI entrepreneurship.

“It feels pretty amazing to be recognized by my peers and the students that I teach at the university and the people I’m involved with at the Next AI program. It’s a real honour,” he said in a phone interview after receiving the award.

The Top 40 Under 40 is an awards program that recognizes young business leaders and innovators, based on leadership, impact, innovation and social contribution.

Diving deeper into his expertise, Taylor said AI has been given a bad name by some, especially those who have seen the Terminator movie series.

But he said people shouldn’t be intimidated by machines thinking like humans.

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“The first thing that comes to mind for many people are these Hollywood movie portrayals of AI because a lot us grew up with sci-fi and that’s the way it was framed,” he said.

“I think there certainly has been elements of a dystopian future that’s been painted by sci-fi and I think a lot of technologies that are being developed are aimed to make our lives better, rather than make them worse.”

Taylor said some of their work at the university relates to autonomous driving by creating computer vision algorithms which allow vehicles to spot pedestrians on the road and other vehicles.

They’re also creating AI technology for the agricultural field to make food systems more efficient.

“It’s certainly something we’re trying to do at the university, is build artificial intelligence that essentially encompasses human values and actually makes life better. That’s part of the Guelph motto, it’s all about improving life,” he said.

Taylor said the award doesn’t just give recognition to himself, but also to the University of Guelph as well.

“It opens opportunities for grad students and could lead to more research collaborations and funding to keep the state-of-the-art equipment here top notch,” he said. “Having [the] Guelph faculty recognized by these awards is a really effective recruiting tool.”

Taylor, along with the other winners of the Top 40 Under 40 for 2018, will be honoured during an event in Toronto in November.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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