Vector researcher Alán Aspuru-Guzik delivers CIFAR Massey Talk

October 25, 2022


By Ian Gormely

Vector Faculty Member Alán Aspuru-Guzik gave a CIFAR Massey Talk on Tuesday, Oct 11, 2022. The Canada CIFAR AI Chair and Professor of Chemistry and Computer Science at the University of Toronto spoke about how the combination of chemistry, one of the oldest scientific disciplines, and AI and quantum computing, two of its most modern, can create “disruptive innovation.” 

More than a theory, Asupru-Guzik is putting this idea into practice. He is a pioneer in self-driving labs (SDLs) for the discovery of new materials, which reduces the materials discovery process by a factor of 10. SDLs, which integrate AI into their processes, are the cornerstone of the Acceleration Consortium, Aspuru-Guzik’s group at the University of Toronto, which Vector recently partnered with to release an open source “off-the-shelf” package to power the back-end of SDLs.

“Think about all the things around us that require molecules… trillions of dollars of our economy,” he said in his lecture. “The most important solutions for humanity are stuff — materials.” To emphasize science’s important role he cited the nitrogen filtration process used in fertilizer, “one of the most important traded resources in the past century,” as an example. “I’m trying to make Canada a leader in the world in accelerated molecular discovery.”  

After his formal talk, “Disruptive innovation and opportunities in renewable energy and AI” Asupru-Guzik engaged in a more informal chat with Massey Junior Fellows Alec Krawciw, Aditi Maheshwari, and Alexandra Martin discussing data bias, the interplay between AI and quantum computing and the potential for environmental solutions. 

Watch the full lecture below


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