The U of A has been turning out world-class graduates in this field for some time.
"I think one of the reasons DeepMind was excited about the three of us is many of our graduates ended up at DeepMind," says Bowling.
Other AI labs, including the university's Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) and RBC's Borealis AI lab are also considering moves to the downtown core.
"It creates an opportunity to build up a bit of an ecosystem where the lack of office space near the university makes that a bit more difficult," Bowling says.
Bowling says there is a growing AI community in Edmonton, in research and commercialization. After DeepMind announced its expansion to Edmonton, there was an uptick in graduate students interested in the U of A program, which further widens the talent pool.
Plus there is entrepreneurial activity growing.
"If you’re getting trained inside the U of A and you have a bent to those big long-term problems, that’s great. But there’s a lot of people who are excited — let me take the technology we have now — I don’t need to make it any better. Let me apply it in places I can really help people. it’s great to see that happening too," Bowling says.
"The talent pool here is almost totally untapped because there isn’t the equivalent tech giant you have to compete with. DeepMind is going to be the one place nearly every graduate who is interested in machine learning is going to want to come to."
DeepMind, established in London in 2010 by Hassabis, was acquired in 2014 by Google and is now part of the Alphabet Group. It recently added a lab in Montreal and has a DeepMind applied team in California.