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Vector Institute establishes AI engineering team

EP&T Magazine   

Automation / Robotics Electronics AI artificial intelligence

Goal is to translate research into practical and responsible AI applications

The Vector Institute in Toronto has established an AI engineering team that will translate its leading AI research into new and responsible industrial AI applications and health care initiatives. The team will create reference applications, tools, frameworks, and model templates and provide industry and health care organizations in Canada with the know-how and hands-on experience to adapt and operationalize these models quickly and effectively within their organizations. The team will also support the establishment of world-class scientific computing infrastructure to scale AI research and adoption.

Source: Vector Institute

The engineering team will be led by Ron Bodkin who will assume the role of VP of AI Engineering and CIO at the Vector Institute, and Engineering Lead at the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology in Society as of September 8, 2020.

The AI engineering team will be charged with five key priorities:

Industry: Supporting the Vector Institute’s industry sponsor companies through knowledge transfer programs, giving these companies the know-how and hands-on experience to adapt and operationalize reference applications, tools, frameworks, and model templates within their organizations.

Responsible AI: Collaborating with the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society to develop technology and frameworks for operationalizing responsible AI, helping industry and health partners address common technical challenges related to AI governance, fairness, explainability, interpretability, privacy, and security.


Health: Supporting the operationalization of innovative AI tools and solutions in Canadian health care organizations with a focus on privacy, technology modernization, and collaboration with practitioners. This will complement and build on Vector’s commitment to modernizing health data governance for research by enhancing the impact of compute infrastructure provided for support the Ontario Health Data Platform for COVID-19 research, collaborations with Unity Health Toronto and TAHSN hospitals to derive COVID-19 insights from hospital data, and the Health AI Data Access Platform (HAIDAP) collaboration with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services (ICES), UHN, and HPC4Health at The Hospital for Sick Children.

Research: Accelerating our researchers’ ability to conduct and reproduce experiments and push forward the frontier of AI research by enhancing our AI infrastructure, fostering the most promising innovations, and seeking to demonstrate their implications for AI practice, including through open source publication and maintenance.

AI Infrastructure: Procuring and operating one of the world’s most significant non-profit machine learning computational infrastructures, including thousands of GPUs, petaflops of computation, large scale data management, modern training frameworks, experiment workflow tools, and prioritized fairshare scheduling.

Explainable AI and fairness capabilities

After spending the majority of his professional life in the United States, Ron Bodkin is repatriating to Canada to take this role at the Vector Institute. In his most recent role as Technical Director on the Applied Artificial Intelligence team in Google’s Cloud CTO office, Bodkin led strategic initiatives working with Google Cloud’s customers and partners, and worked with product teams on explainable AI and fairness capabilities in Google Cloud products.

“The establishment of the engineering team marks a natural progression of our vision. The team will accelerate capabilities across multiple sectors and augment our position as a world-leading AI institute with a focus on responsible AI,” says Garth Gibson, president and CEO, Vector Institute. “Given Ron’s experience as an entrepreneur and leader in AI engineering and responsible AI, product development, and strategic partnerships, he is uniquely positioned to drive and advance application and lead the team. We are looking forward to welcoming him back to Canada.”




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