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In a quiet Canadian biology lab, an AI-fuelled moonshot takes shape

The artificial intelligence boom presents Canada with unique opportunities and risks as we seek to benefit from a technology that could reshape how we live.

In this special series, Canada’s AI AdvantageThe Logic examines how Canadian companies, investors, institutions and workers can gain from the country’s early lead in AI, even as Canada’s pioneers in the field become the world’s most powerful voices of caution.

GUELPH, ONT. — The world’s top experts on that humblest of insects, the ant, are each conservatively outnumbered about 20 quadrillion to one by their research subjects. There are 15,700 named ant species and subspecies, and potentially just as many undiscovered. Just keeping track, never mind studying all that variety, is a job that stretches the limits of human capability—particularly in a world changing so rapidly that an estimated 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, more than ever before in human history.  

With biodiversity under threat, bug scientists are hoping artificial intelligence can help solve the mysteries of the natural world scurrying beneath our feet. Biologist John Fryxell is leading one such effort. 

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