Royal Bank boosts AI investment by hiring University of Alberta pioneer

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is hiring a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) as an advisor to a new research lab the bank is establishing as part of its investment in AI and machine learning, Canada’s largest bank said on Wednesday.

The bank declined to say how much is being invested, but estimated that its ongoing investments in AI will total in the tens of millions of dollars over the coming years.

RBC Research said it is looking into how AI can be applied in banking and it will be working with Richard Sutton, a professor of computing science at the University of Alberta.

Sutton has made substantial contributions in the field of “reinforcement learning,” a type of machine learning that uses reward and punishment.

It is a subset of the science of getting a computer to do something without programming it to do so, and is the technology behind self-driving cars and underpins Google’s AlphaGo, the AI program that last year beat the world champion at the ancient board game Go.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to acquire startup from U of T’s Sam Molyneux

A startup by a former University of Toronto student is the talk of Silicon Valley, Toronto and all tech centres in between after it was acquired by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative earlier this week.

Yes, that Zuckerberg.

The Toronto-based company called Meta (known as ScienceScape when it lived in its early days at the university’s Best Institute five years ago) was co-founded by Sam Molyneux, a former U of T PhD student in biomedical physics, and his technologist sister, Amy. The company uses an algorithm to provide scientists with all the latest research developments in their fields.

U of T grads who co-founded booming startup Exact Media named to “Forbes 30 Under 30 List”

The co-founders of Toronto-based startup Exact Media, which has been described as the Airbnb of marketing, have been named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list of the young innovators and “change-makers” who are redefining industries from marketing to healthcare and education.

They are among several U of T alumni that made it to the list this year. U of T alumni were recognized in categories like consumer technology, law & policy, marketing and advertising, and retail and ecommerce.

Daniel Rodic and Elena Sahakyan are two of the four co-founders of Exact Media, a Toronto-based e-commerce sampling and coupon company. The two, who are graduates of U of T’s Rotman Commerce program, were cited in the marketing and advertising category.

Exact Media buys excess space inside parcels that are being delivered to people who have made online purchases. The company then tucks samples of branded products into those spots. Brands pay Exact to find these spaces so that people purchasing towels online may receive a sample of Tide detergent or someone buying a swimsuit may get a bottle of Olay sunscreen.

The company’s investors include Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, and it serves clients like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, L’Oréal, Pfizer and Mondelez,