AI in Action event at Durham College delves into transformative potential of AI

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence, better known as AI, presents unprecedented opportunities in research and business and Durham College (DC) leading the way in this field by bringing together leaders to collaborate and connect about AI’s possibilities, as wells as its risks and how to navigate them.

Hosted by Durham College’s AI Hub at the Centre for Innovation and Research, the AI in Action event on March 25 welcomed the broader community including business leaders, tech enthusiasts and community leaders.

DC President Dr. Elaine Popp said the college is an early adopter of AI technology, recognizing the importance of being on the leading edge of the field and embracing its impact and innovation.

“As one of the most transformative and captivating technologies of our time, AI has changed the way we think, work, learn, and teach,” she said in her remarks to open the event. “It has captured the imagination of thinkers, scientists, and visionaries worldwide, and now we stand on the threshold of an era where machines can learn, reason, and adapt, revolutionizing our lives and work.”

Event attendees heard from keynote speaker Mohit Rajhans who discussed both the technological and cultural impact of AI followed by from a panel discussion on overcoming barriers to AI adoption.

Panelist Angus Lockhart, a senior policy analyst at The Dias, a think tank at Toronto Metropolitan University, said his role is to help find ways to help the Canadian economy to grow in a way that benefits everyone and the adoption of AI is one of those ways.

However, Lockhart said Canada as a whole has struggled in at least the last two decades to adopt technology and those same struggles continue with the adoption of AI.

He said there were several reasons, including an information gap faced by businesses.

“The amount of information you need to pick up a new artificial intelligence tool and put in place in your business is really high,” he said. “We see that about 70 per cent of businesses in Canada say they have no business case for artificial intelligence so most businesses in Canada do not know how AI can benefit them.”

At DC, the AI Hub is helping business adopt AI and creating opportunities for students.

“The AI Hub has been designated as a Technology Access Centre, the most prestigious distinction for a college centre of excellence by recognizing its impact on the local economy and it provides a range of AI related services and research and development,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, Dean of the Office of Research Services in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “I am deeply proud of the industry partners, students and alumni for their significant contributions to the advancement of AI technologies. Their efforts have made the AI Hub a key partner and resource in helping companies recognize and harness the potential of AI.”

Declan Kintu, a DC student pursuing a graduate certificate in Artificial Intelligence Analysis, Design and Implementation, was among the event’s attendees.

He said he was interested in the discussion around the need for governance around AI as well as the issue of data management.

“If you have good data, you can create anything with the use of AI,” said Kintu.

As a student, he said the AI in Action event is valuable both for the discussion of ideas and as a networking opportunity.

“I am actively looking to enter the AI space professionally — and coming to Durham College networking was a very big plus for me — and the second biggest thing is the learning, I go home a bit smarter. I’ve learned about new technology; I’ve learned about data management policy.”