Tag Archives: canada

Google’s DeepMind Turns to Canada for Artificial Intelligence Boost

Google’s high-profile artificial intelligence unit has a new Canadian outpost.

DeepMind, which Google bought in 2014 for roughly $650 million, said Wednesday that it would open a research center in Edmonton, Canada. The new research center, which will work closely with the University of Alberta, is the United Kingdom-based DeepMind’s first international AI research lab.


DeepMind, now a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet (GOOG, +1.49%), recruited three University of Alberta professors from to lead the new research lab. The professors—Rich Sutton, Michael Bowling, and Patrick Pilarski—will maintain their positions at the university while working at the new research office.

Sutton, in particular, is a noted expert in a subset of AI technologies called reinforcement learning and was an advisor to DeepMind in 2010. With reinforcement learning, computers look for the best possible way to achieve a particular goal, and learn from each time they fail.

DeepMind has popularized reinforcement learning in recent years through its AlphaGo program that has beat the world’s top players in the ancient Chinese board game, Go. Google has also incorporated some of the reinforcement learning techniques used by DeepMind in its data centers to discover the best calibrations that result in lower power consumption.

“DeepMind has taken this reinforcement learning approach right from the very beginning, and the University of Alberta is the world’s academic leader in reinforcement learning, so it’s very natural that we should work together,” Sutton said in a statement. “And as a bonus, we get to do it without moving.”

DeepMind has also been investigated by the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to comply with the United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act as it expands to using its technology in the healthcare space.

ICO information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement on Monday that the office discovered a “number of shortcomings” in the way DeepMind handled patient data as part of a clinical trial to use its technology to alert, detect, and diagnosis kidney injuries. The ICO claims that DeepMind failed to explain to participants how it was using their medical data for the project.

DeepMind said Monday that it “underestimated the complexity” of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service “and of the rules around patient data, as well as the potential fears about a well-known tech company working in health.” DeepMind said it would be now be more open to the public, patients, and regulators with how it uses patient data.

“We were almost exclusively focused on building tools that nurses and doctors wanted, and thought of our work as technology for clinicians rather than something that needed to be accountable to and shaped by patients, the public and the NHS as a whole,” DeepMind said in a statement. “We got that wrong, and we need to do better.”



Iggy Azalea goes commando as she flashes her sensational curves in VERY daring laced-up dress at star-studded Toronto’s Much Music Awards

She’s famous for her unreal curves and bubblegum flavored rap.

And Iggy Azalea’s world-class curves took center stage at Sunday’s Much Music Awards in Toronto. 

The Fancy songstress showed some skin in a blush pink dress which laced up the side to reveal the Aussie starlet’s naked thigh, bare flank, and curving chest while expertly hugging her prominent posterior.


The Work singer’s dress featured a thigh high slit which transitioned into a series of crisscrossing silver strands which snaked up her torso to show off her bountiful bust. 

Iggy’s flashes of flesh were at her chest and hips seemed to suggest the starlet opted not to wear underwear with the provocative piece.



Obama, Trudeau have dinner in Montreal

The duo dined at trendy Liverpool House on Tuesday when the former US president was in town for a speaking engagement.

The pair have a storied bromance, which began when Mr Trudeau visited the White House for a state dinner last year.

Mr Trudeau, who once called Mr Obama his “sibling”, tweeted that they discussed getting young people “to take action in their communities”.


The Obama Foundation also tweeted that the two had discussed their “shared commitment” to youth leadership.

Mr Obama was in town to give a speech at the Palais des congrès hosted by the Montreal Chamber of Commerce. The event was sold out, with reports of tickets being resold online for hundreds of dollars.

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During his speech, Mr Obama commended the Paris climate agreement and expressed disappointment that the US has withdrawn.

“In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change,” he said. “An agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership will still give our children a fighting chance.”

But it wasn’t all business for the busy former president, who took time to have dinner with the Canadian prime minister.


Restaurant owner David McMillan told the CBC that the pair seemed jovial at dinner, which included oysters, shrimp, halibut, steak, spaghetti lobster and strawberry shortcake. The restaurant is a favorite of Mr Trudeau’s, who is from Montreal and represents the district of Papineau.

But while the pair were cool and collected inside, outside it was mayhem with about 200 security guards and a street packed with onlookers.



Google Wifi now available in Canada

Google Wifi, the mesh router that Google unveiled first last October, is now on sale in Canada. The router sells either individually for $179 CDN, or in a 3-pack for $439 CDN, which is pretty close to U.S. pricing given current exchange rates. The Wifi solution’s mesh networking approach means it can seamlessly pair with other units to extend coverage throughout a house, without sacrificing signal strength, and while also handing off connections from one device to the next with such smooth transitions that you won’t notice the change even if you’re on a VOIP call when it happens.

The Wifi router does indeed provide strong coverage, based on my short tests, but the most interesting thing for users who might not necessarily need improved coverage is that it also comes with a companion mobile app, which makes it incredibly easy to manage tasks that typically aren’t all that user-friendly when it comes to home networking solutions. The app lets you do things like prioritize certain devices for when there isn’t enough bandwidth to go around, see exactly what devices are connected, toggle and schedule access for specific devices and groups of devices, designate others as network managers and more.

Google’s industrial design means these puck-like little cylinders won’t ruin your home decor if you place them around your house, rather than hidden away, which is basically the worst thing you can do if you’re hoping for good, consistent and far-ranging Wi-Fi coverage.

Unlike with other home networking devices you may have used that offer dual-band, Google Wifi won’t make you pick one band (either 2.4GHz or 5GHz) among two separate networks. The idea is you never think about what you’re connecting to what, but the result is just that your devices are always getting the best possible speeds available given network conditions. Google sorts this out using its own machine learning algorithms, which are actually also predictive – meaning they can anticipate upcoming busy times on certain bands and adjust connections in anticipation so you don’t encounter any problems.



If UX and network quality aren’t reason enough (and the fact that competitor Eero doesn’t currently sell to Canada directly), then there’s another reason Canadians should take note of Wifi’s launch: Canadians helped build it in a big way. Every aspect of the tech, from hardware, to software, to the companion app, was worked on to a “significant” degree by Google’s engineering team in Waterloo.

Wifi goes on sale today at the Google Store online, as well as at Best Buy Canada, Staples Canada and Walmart Canada, and Google says more retailers will follow.


Google Wifi now available in Canada

Canada is launching an experiment that will give 4,000 people free money until 2020

Finland, the Netherlands, and San Francisco, California, have already shown interest in giving people a regular monthly allowance — a system known as basic income.

Now Ontario, Canada, is planning a basic-income trial as well.

On Monday, Premier Kathleen Wynne outlined new details of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot, which is expected to begin later this spring and last for three years.

A total of 4,000 people in three regions in the province will begin receiving additional income based on their current salary.

A person in the trial can receive up to $16,989 a year, though the equivalent of 50% of any additional earned income will be subtracted from that figure. So a person who makes $10,000 a year at their job, for example, would receive $11,989 in basic income, for a total income of $21,989.


Eligible recipients, who must be between 18 and 64 and considered low-income, will be chosen through a randomized selection process.

Wynne says one goal of the pilot is to reassure people that their government supports them.

“It says to them government is with you,” she said. “Ontario is with you.”

The premise of basic income is straightforward: People get monthly checks to cover living expenses such as food, transportation, clothing, and utilities — no questions asked.

Along with Canada, several countries are conducting basic-income trials.

Finland’s government launched its pilot on January 1 and is giving 2,000 unemployed Finns $590 a month. In various cities throughout the Netherlands, 250 people will soon receive an extra $1,100 a month for two years. And in Kenya, the charity GiveDirectly has launched a trial version of a 12-year study that seeks to gather the first longitudinal data on basic income.

The concept of basic income has been around since the 1960s. Since then, various researchers and government officials have given basic-income experiments a try, with mixed results.

In general, however, the data seems to tilt in basic income’s favor.

A study published in late 2016 found that people who received unconditional cash transfers used drugs and alcohol less frequently than people who didn’t receive the money. And though it’s easy to assume free money would make people lazy, research suggests the opposite is true. People in one 2013 study worked on average 17% longer and received 38% higher earnings when they got a basic income.

Skeptics, meanwhile, say that because many basic-income trials have been conducted in small villages in the developing world, the findings won’t necessarily translate to developed countries.

Ontario’s trial will begin in the regions of Hamilton, including Brantford and the County of Brant, and in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. The third pilot will launch in Lindsay in the fall.

“Everyone should benefit from Ontario’s economic growth,” Wynne said in a statement. “A basic income will support people in our province who are reaching for a better life.”

Via Business Insider

MADDEAUX: Canada finally in fashion?

Canada has long had a branding problem. We’re the land of ice, snow and poutine but few would consider us “cool.”

That label has traditionally been reserved for countries like France, Italy and even our southern neighbours, the United States. However, quietly and slowly, something is changing. Canada is getting the world’s attention and becoming covetable.

Friday night saw the fourth annual Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA) hosted at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York. The night honoured some of our country’s top design talent, including Jenny Bird, Erdem, Beaufille, The Feral and David Dixon. The night has evolved into the de facto Oscars of Canadian fashion. Canadians aren’t exactly known for their giant, flowing ball gowns and avant-garde design, but that’s exactly what was showcased on the red carpet.

Even The New York Times took notice, saying our homegrown industry is “reaching for its spot in the sun.”


Canadian fashion isn’t just parkas and Toronto-themed baseball caps. It’s being worn by the likes of Kate Middleton and Lady Gaga and reaching top editors at Paris Fashion Week and Milan Fashion Week. The made-in-Canada black tie looks crafted by labels like Greta Constantine, Stephan Caras, Mikael D, Narces and Mikhael Kale at CAFA were worthy of the pages of Vogue. Canadian fashion has arrived. It’s elegant, it’s original and it’s finally stepping into the international spotlight.

It’s not just our fashion scene that’s had a branding problem. Canadian food hasn’t done much better over the years. I was surprised to find on a recent trip to Dubai that Canada was the new cool kid in town. Toronto restaurants Weslodge and Byblos both have outposts there and are some of the hottest seats in town. Craig Wong, who owns Patois and Jackpot Chicken Rice locally, runs Ting Irie – Dubai’s first modern Jamaican restaurant. Reggae legend Beenie Man launched his new album there this month. There’s even an uber swanky Tim Hortons.

World MasterCard Fashion Week Spring 2016 Collections In Toronto - Red: Emerging Designer Showcase - Runway

Dubai also has a burgeoning, vibrant food truck scene.

One of the leaders of the pack is TruckersDXB, a roaming food truck jam featuring everything from shrimp tacos to pasta cooked in a giant parmesan wheel. The man behind it all is a Canadian from Montreal.

In a city as forward-facing and competitive as Dubai, having Canadian influence on the scene is no small feat. Our cool status there is a true testament to how far our image has come over the last couple years.

I’m writing this column from Washington, D.C., where just about every Uber driver, bartender and political aide I run into has unsolicited high praise for Canada. They envy our diversity. They have crushes on Justin Trudeau. They’re planning vacations to Toronto and Montreal, citing them as bucket-list destinations.

As Canadians, we have a tendency to underestimate ourselves. We’re selfdeprecating to a fault. Sometimes this makes us look modest and sweet, but it also leads to a risk-averse culture that fails to shoot for the stars.

Based on our recent success, we need to keep aiming high and wear the Canadian label proudly.




Five things you might not know about Western Canada Fashion Week

Western Canada Fashion Week begins this week in Edmonton. You may already know it is the longest-running event of its kind in Alberta and the second-largest in Canada. You may also know it’s one of the nation’s longest-standing fashion weeks, having outlived its counterparts in Toronto and Montreal.

Going into its 25th season, WCFW showcases the creative talents of over 40 designers per season, with entries from across the country, as well as international designers from as far away as the Philippines and Vietnam. You may have thought that WCFW was just for serious fashionistas, but the style, excitement and entertainment value are geared to delight a much wider audience.

It challenges norms for models: “Style is ageless,” says Sandra Sing Fernandes, the creative force behind WCFW. That is why this year there will be an evening dedicated to diversity of age, with stylish models who challenge the fashion industry’s norms for age and body types. “Our philosophy has always been self-expression, creativity and style for all,” says Fernandes. “Some designers are realizing that women are changing. They want more fashion options, and we feel now is the time to push fashion boundaries.” Fashions for men and women by local designer Stanley Carroll and Le Chateau Canada will be featured in this show that opens the festival Mar.23. “Nothing before has created as much excitement as Ageless Style,” adds Fernandes.

  1. Rolling out style: This year, for the first time, on April 1, WCFW will feature models with disabilities, including models in wheelchairs and models with prosthetics. On the runway will be members of Canada’s Paralympic Volley Ball Team. Made possible by a partnership with Alberta Medical Supplies, the evening will include demonstrations of pain-free compression wear as well as a fashion show. The models and fashions are organized by Benveet (Bean) Gill, whose history with WCFW goes back five years, before she became paralyzed due to a viral infection. Back then, she was a talented makeup artist lending her skills to WCFW. Today, Gill, is co-founder of ReYu, a local non-profit activity-based paralysis-recovery centre. Gill herself will take part as a model in the fashion show. Fashions to be modelled are from Van Mil- Amsterdam, LUXX Ready Wear, Nu2 You and The Running Room.
    Lynn Mandel (left) with Western Canada Fashion Week founder Sandra Sing Fernandes after a show at Bavaria BMW. VICKIE LALIOTIS / FILE PHOTO

  1. A local event with global vision: WCFW is a real boost to the city’s local fashion and beauty scene, says Lynn Mandel, wife of former mayor Stephen Mandel and a longtime supporter of WCFW. “I’m thrilled that WCFW takes place in Edmonton. I’m honoured to be a part of this important event that celebrates and unites the enterprising, innovative and change-making talent of our city,” she says. Mandel points to the links between fashion, culture and the arts. “Edmonton has always prided itself on our cultural diversity and how those differences have influenced our arts scene. Fashion design in Edmonton, which reflects our culture, is both an art form and an industry and is supported in many ways, solely by WCFW.”
    Fashion designer Derek Jagodzinsky (right) with model Grace. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA/FILE

  1. A showcase for emerging talent: With its competitions for emerging designers, costume design and fantasy hair and makeup design, WCFW serves as an incubator for new talent, providing opportunities for novices to break into the world of retail fashion. It has been instrumental in launching the careers of designers such as Sid Neigum, Caitlin Power, Derek Jagodzinsky, Malorie Urbanovitch and Jessica Halabi, as well as models such as Linsay Willier. Past first-place winners of the competition have used the free showcase to help launch their clothing lines or open their own boutiques. The nine-day event is also a platform for hair academies to showcase new graduates. In addition, there are opportunities for more than 30 hair salons to work with models to build portfolios and their client base.
    Flowbot, real name Michael Ortiz, shows off his contact juggling skills. CODIE MCLACHLAN /POSTMEDIA/FILE

  1. It celebrates arts and culture: “Each season, we work with young dancers and singers to help build their confidence by performing on our stage,” says Fernandes. “As well, we support the artistic talents of inner-city kids by showing their work in our foyer.” There will be a different lineup of performing artists each night, with the greatest variety on Fantasy Night, March 27, says Fernandes. Among the host of performers will be pop singer, songwriter and dancer Mackenzie Dayle, who performs March 23, 27 and 28; and Michael Ortiz on March 27, as well as Viva Dance troupe on March 31. Also look for Peter Raiwe, a singer-songwriter from Winnipeg, and poetry from Lady Vanessa Cardona.

At a glance:

Western Canada Fashion Week takes place at the ATB Arts Barns, 10330 84 Ave., with shows nightly from March 23 to April 1, excluding Sunday, March 26. For more information on the schedule of events, go to westerncanadafashionweek.com. WCFW also supports local charitable organizations such as YESS and TERRA, by accepting donations of gently used clothing, personal essentials and monetary gifts.



Five things you might not know about Western Canada Fashion Week

Deal struck to allow ebook discounts in Canada

Three major publishers have signed an agreement with Canadian competition authorities that will permit retailers to sell the ebooks they publish at a discount — a practice limited in some of their contracts.

Publishers Holtzbrinck (doing business as Macmillan), Simon & Schuster, and Hachette signed the agreement with the Competition Bureau, as has Apple, an ebook retailer.

A previous agreement involving the three publishers and HarperCollins was rescinded by the Competition Tribunal last June after two years of litigation with Kobo — an ebook retailer spun off from Indigo Books & Music — challenging the 2014 deal.

The Competition Tribunal’s ruling last year provided clarity for what future arrangements should include.

HarperCollins did not sign the new agreement, and the Competition Bureau said it has filed an application with the Competition Tribunal to stop the company’s alleged anti-competitive conduct.

The bureau alleges that an agreement between HarperCollins, its competitors and Apple was anti-competitive and led to higher prices for Canadians.

By The Canadian Press