Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Current Winner - 2023

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

Yoshua Bengio

Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

Department of Computer Science and Operations Research

Université de Montréal

Few people have influenced theoretical and empirical progress on deep learning as much as Yoshua Bengio. From the earliest days of his career, he pursued an interest in the broad area of machine learning, then still a marginal discipline whose potential had not yet been demonstrated, in which he has become a pioneer since the start of the century. Deep learning is now the most active field in the sphere of artificial intelligence. Since then, his contributions have had a structuring impact on information technology throughout the world. His research has led to major breakthroughs in the field of artificial intelligence, particularly in speech recognition, computer vision and natural-language modelling.

As founder and scientific director of Mila – Quebec AI Institute, Professor Bengio has assembled over 1,000 researchers into what is now the world’s largest centre for university research on deep learning. The advances that he has overseen have generated scientific-discovery tools that will be useful both in artificial intelligence and in other fields and that are raising great hopes for the creation of new applications that will be useful to society as a whole, especially in the fields of health and the environment. They are also helping to answer some essential questions in the search for an understanding of human intelligence.

Professor Bengio’s research efforts have a humanistic dimension: they are aimed at developing technologies that will benefit all and contribute to sustainable development. He thus acts not only as a scientific leader but also as a moral leader, through the interest that he takes in the ethical issues and societal impacts of artificial intelligence. In 2016, he began hosting interns from developing countries in his laboratory to work on artificial-intelligence projects related chiefly to climate change, racial and sexual prejudice and medical imaging. Professor Bengio has also participated in the necessary inquiry into the societal impact of artificial intelligence. In particular, he contributed to the drafting of the Montreal Declaration for the Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence, was appointed a member of the UN’s Scientific Advisory Board for Independent Advice on Breakthroughs in Science and Technology, and is working to promote responsible regulations that consider all of the current and expected negative impacts of artificial intelligence, including the catastrophic risks that it poses.

For additional information or to request photos of NSERC Prize winners, please contact Media Relations.