Toronto lab to help lead global AI research & development; joins UK, and Russia as part of a network of Global AI Centres
Samsung Research America (SRA), announced that it is establishing a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) centre in Toronto, as part of a new venture to tap into and contribute to the flourishing AI industry growing in Canada’s largest city. The opening of the Toronto AI Centre comes on the heels of the company’s global announcement of two additional and newly established AI Centres in Cambridge, UK and Moscow, Russia. The Toronto Centre will work in partnership with the company’s Silicon Valley team to pioneer AI research and development for the region.
Located in Toronto’s downtown core at MaRS Discovery District, the new Samsung AI Centre will contribute to building the connected future by accelerating the adoption of intelligence on multiple devices ranging from household appliances to cars. The Toronto AI Centre is a part of a network of research Centres dedicated to research and development in the field of AI. The Centre is the second Samsung AI Centre to be established in North America, with the other in Mountain View, California. The North America AI Centres are led by senior vice president, Dr. Larry Heck, a renowned expert in machine learning for spoken and text language processing, who also co-leads the expansion of Samsung’s AI Centres around the globe.
“Toronto and the GTA are epi-centres of machine learning and one of the world’s foremost hubs for AI research and development. Home to not only world-class talent, but also some of the most innovative start-ups in the artificial intelligence field,” said Dr. Larry Heck, Co-Head of Global Artificial Intelligence Research. “We are looking forward to contributing to this vibrant AI community and to help push the field forward as we move towards our goal of making all Samsung connected devices intelligent by 2020.”
With a rich history in innovation and discovery, Toronto serves as an ideal place for research and development for speech recognition, where machine-learning technology was applied many years before it was widely applied to other fields. The vision is that the Samsung AI Centre will now serve an important role in the advancement of AI with a focus on language understanding and computer vision technologies that will ultimately reduce the friction between the user and the device/service, whether it be mobile phones, TVs, appliances, or cars.
The Toronto centre will be led by Dr. Sven Dickinson, newly appointed as the head of the Toronto lab, professor on leave and past chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Dr. Dickinson is an expert in computer vision technologies, especially in the field of object recognition. He will play an integral part in Samsung’s research of core AI technologies that entail language, vision and other multi-modal interactions.
Samsung will officially celebrate today’s announcement of the Toronto AI Centre with an opening ceremony and presentations at MaRS Discovery District from key Samsung business leaders and special guests including Samsung’s CEO of Consumer Electronics, Hyun-suk Kim, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, Dr. Larry Heck, Senior Vice President of Samsung Research America, and key stakeholders and partners from major universities in Canada.
“Canadian ingenuity and innovation is getting noticed and together with our investments in skills and superclusters focused on next generation products like artificial intelligence, the world’s investors are choosing Canada. Congratulations to Toronto and to Samsung for recognizing Canada is the place to be!” said Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade.
Key contributing factors for the location selection include the availability of key AI talent, including leading AI researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo who have had longstanding relationships with Samsung. Establishing an AI Centre in Southern Ontario also enables Samsung to better collaborate with regional start-ups and expand the current ecosystem. As one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs, MaRS Discovery district supports promising innovators and ventures tackling key challenges in the sectors of cleantech, finance & commerce, and work & learning. In addition, and importantly, the vast MaRS community fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration which drives breakthrough discoveries and new solution for global audiences.
“We are proud to welcome Samsung to MaRS,” said Yung Wu, CEO, MaRS Discovery District. “We both recognize the important role Toronto – and Canada – play as a destination for innovation talent, research and start-ups. We look forward to collaborating and connecting with the Samsung team on a variety of exciting opportunities as this project comes to life.”
Today’s announcement compliments earlier 2018 news of plans to launch additional AI centres in North America. Dr. Darin Graham will spearhead the opening of new labs in Canada as the head of Samsung’s Canadian AI Operations. Until recently, Dr. Graham helped lead the creation and formation of the Vector Institute – the renowned Canadian AI research institute, as a member of the founding team. The opening of AI centres in Canada will allow Samsung to expand its outpost for industry collaboration and talent recruitment in the major AI hubs in North America.
“Investments like this are proof that Canada is truly a world-leader in artificial intelligence. Our talent and innovation ecosystem make us an attractive place for companies to grow and create well-paying jobs for Canadians. Our government is proud to partner with companies like Samsung, as we continue advancing our machine learning knowledge and further establish our place on the world stage as an AI leader,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
To date, Samsung has had great success in leveraging Canada’s unique R&D talents for global impact. The Company’s Vancouver-based R&D centre has contributed to a number of in-market innovations and more than doubled its workforce, since opening with over 100 employees. With the addition of the AI centre in Toronto, the company plans to increase the R&D in Canada from current 100 to 200 in the near future. Additional developments and talent in Canada have been recognized through Samsung Electronics Canada subsidiaries, AdGear Technologies Inc. in Montreal and SigMast Communications Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Aston Martin says back on the road to profitability after 2020 loss
By Costas Pitas
LONDON (Reuters) – Aston Martin expects to almost double sales and move back towards profitability this year after sinking deeper into the red in 2020, when the luxury carmaker was hit by the pandemic, changed its boss and was forced to raise cash.
The British company’s shares jumped 9% in early Thursday trading after it kept a forecast for around 6,000 sales to dealers this year as new management turns around its performance.
The carmaker of choice for fictional secret agent James Bond has had a tough time since floating in 2018, as it failed to meet expectations and burnt through cash, prompting it to seek fresh investment from billionaire Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll.
The firm made a 466-million pound ($660 million) loss last year, compared with a 120 million pound loss in 2019, as sales to dealers fell by 42% to 3,394 vehicles, hit by the closure of showrooms and factories due to COVID-19.
For 2021, it expects “to see the first steps towards improved profitability” but is still likely to post a pre-tax loss, the carmaker said.
“I am extremely pleased with the progress to date despite operating in these most challenging of times,” Stroll said.
Aston said demand for its first sport utility vehicle, the DBX, which rolled off the production line at its Welsh plant in 2020, was strong in a lucrative segment of the market it entered to widen its appeal.
The model accounted for 1,516 of deliveries to dealers last year and the company expects further growth in its first full-year of sales, including in the key market of China, where rivals such as Bentley are also seeing high demand.
“We had not even a half-year DBX production in wholesome so probably we are going to see over-proportional growth in China,” Chief Executive Tobias Moers, who took over in August, told Reuters.
($1 = 0.7065 pounds)
(Reporting by Costas Pitas. Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Mark Potter)
Oil prices hit 11-month highs on tighter supplies, Fed assurance on low rates
By Florence Tan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose for a fourth straight session on Thursday to the highest levels in more than 11 months, underpinned by monetary easing policies and lower crude production in the United States.
Brent crude futures for April gained 19 cents, 0.3%, to $67.23 a barrel by 0400 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for April was at $63.30 a barrel, up 8 cents, 0.1%.
Both contracts touched their highest since January earlier in the session with Brent at $67.44 and WTI at $63.67.
An assurance from the U.S. Federal Reserve that interest rates would stay low for a while boosted investors’ risk appetite and global financial markets.
“Comments from Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, earlier in the week relating to the need for monetary policy to remain accommodative have probably helped, but sentiment in the oil market has also become more bullish, with expectations for a tightening oil balance,” ING analysts said in a note.
A rare winter storm in Texas has caused U.S. crude production to drop by more than 10%, or 1 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, the Energy Information Administration said. [EIA/S]
Fuel supplies in the world’s largest oil consumer could also tighten as its refinery crude inputs had dropped to the lowest since September 2008.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, is due to meet on March 4.
The group will discuss a modest easing of oil supply curbs from April given a recovery in prices, OPEC+ sources said, although some suggest holding steady for now given the risk of new setbacks in the battle against the pandemic.
Extra voluntary cuts by Saudi Arabia in February and March have tightened global supplies and supported prices.
(Reporting by Florence Tan)
Australian media reforms pass parliament after last-ditch changes
By Colin Packham and Swati Pandey
CANBERRA (Reuters) – The Australian parliament on Thursday passed a new law designed to force Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for content used on their platforms in reforms that could be replicated in other countries.
Australia will be the first country where a government arbitrator will decide the price to be paid by the tech giants if commercial negotiations with local news outlets fail.
The legislation was watered down, however, at the last minute after a standoff between the government and Facebook culminated in the social media company blocking all news for Australian users.
Subsequent amendments to the bill included giving the government the discretion to release Facebook or Google from the arbitration process if they prove they have made a “significant contribution” to the Australian news industry.
Some lawmakers and publishers have warned that could unfairly leave smaller media companies out in the cold, but both the government and Facebook have claimed the revised legislation as a win.
“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public-interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement on Thursday.
The progress of the legislation has been closely watched around the world as countries including Canada and Britain consider similar steps to rein in the dominant tech platforms.
The revised code, which also includes a longer period for the tech companies to strike deals with media companies before the state intervenes, will be reviewed within one year of its commencement, the statement said. It did not provide a start date.
The legislation does not specifically name Facebook or Google. Frydenberg said earlier this week he will wait for the tech giants to strike commercial deals with media companies before deciding whether to compel both to do so under the new law.
Google has struck a series of deals with publishers, including a global content arrangement with News Corp, after earlier threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia over the laws.
Several media companies, including Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment and the Australian Broadcasting Corp have said they are in talks with Facebook.
Representatives for both Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Thursday.
(Reporting by Colin Packham in Canberra and Swati Pandey in Sydney; Writing by Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Leslie Adler, Stephen Coates and Jane Wardell)
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