This weekend, computer programmers will gather at Toronto's Ryerson University to develop artificial intelligence solutions that could be used in General Motors Canada's future autonomous cars.

GM is calling the event a "hackathon," and is offering cash prizes to the teams of hackers/programmers who come up with the most creative artificially-intelligent virtual assistant owners of self-driving cars will interact with when they use their vehicles.

The automaker expects the event, which runs this weekend, will attract a mix of participants, including industry professionals, students and tech startups. GM is asking them "dream big" to create a virtual assistant that will "revolutionize" the relationship people have with their vehicles beyond actually driving them.

GM Canada says the hackathon is part of a plan it announced last summer to create a team of 1,000 engineers and software developers who will work at sites in Oshawa and Markham (both Toronto suburbs) to develop tech for autonomous and connected vehicles.

The top prize is $3,000 cash, with second and third place finishers to receive $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.