The LATAM Hub for Artificial Intelligence

In May of 2018, a "center of excellence" for artificial intelligence opened in Medellín, Colombia. According to an article by Jared Wade, the center comes from a partnership between US-based Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI) and Medellín-based startup incubator, Ruta-N. The launch was facilitated by the Agency for Cooperation and Investment in Medellín (ACI) with the goal of fostering specialized skills in the local labor force, and is part of a larger plan to promote research, development, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

This is good news, but I'm biased. Eternally, hopelessly, blissfully biased. You see, I visited Medellín in September of last year and fell in love. Head over heels in love with the city of 'Eternal Spring'. My wife and I hatched a plan to move there by 2025. 

But wait, it gets even better. Earlier this year, I learned Dr. Andrew Ng opened a second office in Medellín for his AI 'ecosystem' of companies!

Dr. Ng told Frederic Lardinois he chose Medellín after exploring options in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Dr. Ng believes Medellín offers a strong talent pool, an educational system and business ecosystem; and argues it's important to set up AI hubs outside of Silicon Valley and China because they'll provide different perspectives.

In fact, in an article by Dr. Ng, he says Colombia is on a trajectory to become a hub of AI in Latin America. He adds that Colombia has been making smart moves building up their tech ecosystem. He notes the Colombian Ministry of IT and Communications recently launched a program to train over 4,400 students in machine learning, deep learning, Python, and other AI subjects. In addition, The World Economic Forum has opened its first Latin American Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Medellín to identify and update public policies for AI and other emerging technologies.

My argument here is that Dr. Ng selecting Medellín is akin to Amazon choosing your hometown for their new headquarters. In other words, big news. Huge. And that, to quote Martha Stewart, is a good thing.

Up until recently, I'd been steadily crafting my career transition to AI and moving to Medellín separately. The convergence of all this goodness on AI and Medellín did come as a bit of a surprise to me. But it shouldn't have. As Alejandro Betancourt writes in The Rise of an emerging AI Hub in Latin America"Not surprisingly, Medellin caught the team attention. A city that has completely transformed itself during the last 20 years to consolidate a fast-growing innovation ecosystem lead by Ruta-N. A strong software engineering pool of talent with a welcoming culture and an entrepreneurial spirit in their DNA and a fully supportive government decided to create the perfect conditions for a booming digital ecosystem."

I'll end with a perfect quote from Hanibal in the A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together!"



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