PM Trudeau delivers remarks at the launch of the Facebook AI research lab at McGill University
Thank you for that warm welcome, Kevin. It’s always nice to see you again. And thank you, Suzanne, for welcoming us to McGill. It’s always nice to be back at my alma mater.
Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to offer our thoughts and prayers to the city of London, where there was an attack earlier today.
As always, Canadians stand with our British friends during these difficult times.
Hello, everyone. As you have likely noticed, we have some special guests with us today.
I want to thank Mike Schroepfer and Yann LeCun and the whole Facebook team for making this trip. It’s always a pleasure to welcome folks to Canada, to my hometown.
I would also like to say hello to my colleague, Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, as well as Minister Anglade and, of course, Mayor Coderre. Thanks to all of you for being here.
To our guests, it is a pleasure to be in Montréal to announce the launch of the Facebook artificial intelligence lab. This is great news for the city of Montréal, for Quebeckers and for all Canadians.
Now, I’m sure many people have told you that in the last couple of years Montreal has become a real hub for innovation. A city that is quickly not only becoming one of the most attractive places in the world to raise a family, but also a place where entrepreneurs can turn dreams into successful businesses. Now, the people who’ve told you that in the recent years aren’t entirely wrong, but I do want to set the record straight; this trend isn’t exactly new. Generations of innovators and thinkers have built Montreal into the city it is today. A city where new ideas are welcomed, where talent thrives, and creativity flourishes.
From the gaming industry to the medical field, from aerospace to entertainment, there are countless examples of leaders and thinkers who drew inspiration from this vibrant community. In many respects creativity is the engine of our prosperity, not only in Montreal but across Canada. So it should come as no surprise that more tech giants like Facebook are choosing our cities as their home away from home.
With its strong research community and well-educated first workforce, Canada is the right place to shape the future. A future where things like artificial intelligence and deep learning help create jobs, improve our quality of life and generate new opportunities for the middle class, and those working hard to join it. And as much as AI is about the future, it’s already shaping the world we live in today. From funny filters on social media, to systems that can identify the most deadly forms of skin cancer, AI is already part of our lives even if we don’t realize it. That’s just how broad its applications can be.
For Facebook, AI is an invaluable tool to deliver on its mission to build stronger communities. Take the translation feature for example; with the click of a button students from Toronto to Tokyo can now connect and exchange ideas in ways that my classmates and I couldn’t even have imagined twenty-five years ago. Similar technology can also be used to address some of the concerns we all share when it comes to the online community.
I’m thinking about things like more effective spam detection or filters that help make social media safer for our children. As a father of three children who will likely become Facebook users in the coming years, that’s very important for me.
Of course, AI is still in its infancy, and this breakthrough technology is showing significant promise. Canada is already leading the charge in this field. Our scientists, university centres and students were among the first to recognize the enormous potential of this revolutionary science. There are several deep artificial intelligence and deep learning pioneers in this room alone.
And when industry giants like Facebook decide to locate in our cities, their presence is a testimony not only to our world-class talent, but also to our huge potential for growth. In other words, it is a vote of confidence for Canada and, above all, for Canadians. And I will readily admit that our government is delighted. After all, AI combines innovation and science while also creating good jobs for the middle class and helping grow the economy.
But we also know that, as the government, we have a role to play in ensuring that our workers are in a position to fill these jobs, in ensuring that our students are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that come with these technological advances. That is why we have put increased emphasis on skills training and innovation in our latest budget. That is why we have decided to invest in our greatest resource—Canadians.
Our government is making targeted, sound investments across the country, investments that are helping middle-class Canadians build a better future for them and their families. We are providing support for new co-op placements that will enable youth to acquire workplace experience. We have improved the Canada Student Loans Program, making post-secondary education more affordable. Furthermore, that program is now available to parents who wish to return to school.
These measures are all part of our ambitious but pragmatic plan to help prepare all Canadians, recent graduates, and experienced workers for the good jobs of the new economy. An economy where innovation is experienced by all of our citizens as a plus, not just talked about by some of us. An economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1%.
That’s why I know that Facebook will be such a valuable addition to the Canadian ecosystem, because like Canada, Facebook is all about community and diversity. It’s about bringing people together, whether they’re an ocean apart, or just sitting at opposite ends of the couch. I’m not speaking from experience here, it’s what I’m told some people do.
It’s about recognizing that we can achieve more together than we ever could on our own, and it’s about finding strength in our differences. That’s a vision of the world we can all believe in and get behind, so thank you for choosing Canada, we’re so very proud to be a part of this exciting new chapter in Facebook’s future, in all of our futures.
Thank you very much.