What do two of Montreal’s greatest strengths have in common, entertainment and artificial intelligence (AI)? Very few, however, believed about fifty companies and organizations from both backgrounds who decided to unite in a new community, E-AI.
Posted on April 15
“Our AI experts don’t often meet our artists and creators from the entertainment industry,” summarizes Stéphane Martel, co-founder of E-AI. The goal of the project is to spark this conversation, not only from a local perspective, but also from an international one. »
The initiative will have its first show on June 14 and 15. Round tables, conferences and networking activities will then take place at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal and on the Internet.
Behind this acronym for “Entertainment – Artificial Intelligence” is Mr. Martel, who worked privately at C2MTL from 2011 to 2014 and launched the travel company Yuliism. Since June 2021, he has patiently brought together entertainment and artificial intelligence players in Montreal to explore the possibilities of convergence. E-AI was officially born the following fall, which it co-founded with four other companies. We have secured mixed public and private financing, in particular a helping hand from the Palais des Congrès investment fund to organize events.
Today, this group includes about fifty organizations, including Moment Factory, Behavior Interactive, Ivado, Phi Center and National Bank.
fill the gaps
The idea behind E-AI is “to take two areas of excellence where we do well, entertainment and artificial intelligence,” explains Mr. Martel. This is not two areas that know each other, shoulders rubbed or repeated on each other. We knew there was room to occupy there, and that we were credible in Montreal due to our good standing in both sectors. »
It is clearly difficult for the person responsible for a recent initiative to give concrete examples of what this meeting of two worlds can provide. But it does provide some clues.
AI is used in entertainment today to amplify creativity. AI will not take away jobs and automate creativity, but it has empowered innovative companies to be more than that.
Stefan Martel, co-founder of E-AI
He remembers that there is often a gap between the research and marketing of AI. “Can’t entertainment, which focuses on narration and user experience, be an ally in the development of artificial intelligence? It is not only artificial intelligence to provide entertainment, but also entertainment that comes to the aid of artificial intelligence.”
More realistically, Mr. Martel identified four needs that were expressed by business and enterprise managers consulted in June 2021. The first is the popularization of AI. “It’s an area of innovation that some players are familiar with, but many entertainment players have never encountered. They don’t understand what you can do for their lives, they’re more afraid.”
We also expressed our desire to bring the two communities together, to increase the attractiveness of Montreal’s business and to provide marketing and export aid tools.
Why did you choose the English abbreviation for a French-speaking city? Mr. Martel recognizes that there have been “moral debates” on this issue and that we fundamentally wanted to reflect the international aspirations of this new society. We also abandoned the first version of the project in 2020 called YUL-AI, which was wiped out by the pandemic even before its launch. E-AI, “It’s an imperfect noun, even in English,” he admits.
E-AI’s long-term success will not be judged solely by the size and popularity of its pools, says Mr. Martel. “In five years, I would like to look more closely at our impact in terms of economic benefits.”