Royal Bank of Canada has hired one of the pioneers in artificial intelligence as an advisor to a new research lab dedicated to machine learning.
The bank has struck up a contract with Dr Richard Sutton, a professor of computing science at the University of Alberta who is widely recognised for his work in reinforcement learning, an area of machine learning that focuses on making predictions without historical data or explicit examples. Most recently, the techniques were used to secure a first-ever victory over a human world-champion in the game of Go, as well as recent applications in robotics and self-driving cars.
Says Sutton: "We've only scratched the surface of what reinforcement learning can do in finance and are excited to unleash even greater possibilities with this collaboration."
The bank says the new Edmonton-based lab will work closely with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), based at the University of Alberta, to identify and pursue further research collaboration opportunities on an ongoing basis.
Foteini Agrafioti, head of RBC Research, says: "RBC Research has built strong capabilities in deep-learning, and with this expansion, we are well poised to play a major role in advancing research in AI and impact the future of banking."
He says the bank is also collaborating with the University of Alberta to provide opportunities like internships and academic exchanges with the Toronto-based research team to students and researchers.
RBC last year partnered with the University of Toronto on a programme of research in machine learning and AI, and funded a mentoring program for AI-focused entrepreneurs and startups.