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Research professor Yoshua Bengio once dreamed of being a physicist, but instead has made great strides in the field of artificial intelligence


and I didn’t feel like I had to overcome very many obstacles, or face rejection or xenophobia because I wasn’t from here. In fact, quite the opposite.” Did he ever feel he was different? “For sure,” he says. “I quickly learned that my ‘French’ accent wasn’t exactly an asset in the schoolyard in the late ’70s. So my first instinct for survival was to adopt an authentic Québécois accent. Everything was fine aſter that.” But he really began to feel at home when, at 26, he decided


“to have children with my former partner, a born-and-bred Quebecer. That was the most significant event in my integra- tion,” says the father of two. Bengio is also an engaged citizen who contributes to the


common good. “Democracy requires people to get involved, think about their collective choices and discuss them,” he says.


“I participate in many debates across social media, and I dis- seminate ideas that I believe are crucial to the advancement of society. For example, cultural diversity should be considered a valuable resource. People who settle here are a giſt and make huge sacrifices [by leaving their native countries]. The more open we are to others, the more our society will thrive economi- cally, socially and culturally.” What keeps him here, helping to make Montreal one of the hubs for artificial intelligence? “It’s Quebec’s values, politics and cultural vitality, which you don’t easily find elsewhere. I feel a bond. Quebec is one of the nicest places to live in the world. This is where I’ve put down roots,” he says.


MANON CHEVALIER is a freelance writer based in Montreal JUNE/JULY 2016 | CPA MAGAZINE | 37


Christian Fleury/ KlixPix


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