Adrien Ali Taïga really likes Montreal—and that’s a good thing for Montreal. The 25-year-old student moved to the city in 2016, drawn in part by the reputation of his fellow Frenchman Yoshua Bengio, the scientific director of Montreal’s Mila, the world-renowned AI and deep learning research centre.
Now a Mila student himself, Ali Taïga is 18 months from earning his PhD in reinforcement learning. The degree, he says with a certain embarrassment, will likely earn him a job with a six-figure salary. He’d hoped that job would be in his adopted city.
Then, suddenly, his long-term future in Quebec became murky. On November 1, the provincial government announced changes to its Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ) program, which offered a fast track to permanent residency for temporary workers and international students studying in Quebec. Only those who studied or worked in government-approved sectors could apply. Artificial intelligence was not on the list.