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Maya BurhanpurkarArtificial intelligence may sound intimidating and like something found only in sci-fi movies, but most people are unaware they use it in their daily lives.

Google Maps works by analyzing data from smartphones to predict traffic and the fastest route to your destination. The spam filter in your email inbox learns what you consider spam to filter out emails more accurately. Being able to deposit a cheque by taking a photo of it is also thanks to artificial intelligence.

The Barrie Public Library has partnered with Georgian College’s Big Data Analytics program for the Shaping Our Future Series, featuring student presentations on the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence. The series is launching January 16 at Five Points Theatre from 7:00-9:00pm with a presentation by Maya Burhanpurkar, third-year physics student and researcher at Harvard University.

“We can harness science to make our world a better place,” Maya remarked. “AI is extremely powerful and certainly changing the world, but it's not remotely close to how human intelligence actually works. It has a long way to go before it can do things that humans take for granted.”

Formerly a student of Barrie North, Maya has accumulated an impressive number of accomplishments, including winning the National Science Fair twice, receiving a Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and representing Canada at the Intel and Google international science fairs.

Maya’s research at Harvard may yield future insights into high temperature superconductors (think MRI machines and electronic motors and generators). Her presentation at Five Points Theatre will focus on how AI and machine learning can better science and society, followed by an AI demo with Cyberworks Robotics Inc.

“We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to hear Maya speak on such a fascinating topic,” said Sandra Sydor, Manager of Community Engagement at the Barrie Public Library. “Barrie has such an entrepreneurial and tech-driven community full of curious minds. It’s exciting to bring this type of learning to our community.”

Tickets are available for $12 from For more information on the launch event, visit or email


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