A|I: The AI Times – AI is jeopardizing Microsoft’s climate goals

Plus: OpenAI hemorrhages safety-conscious leaders, including Canadian Ilya Sutskever.

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Energy-hungry AI models could strain water and power grids. Can the sector handle the demand?

Some of the projected investments in AI infrastructure are approaching the absurd, such as the US$100-billion supercomputer reportedly planned by Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI, while Meta Platforms Inc. increased its capital-spending estimates this year to US$40-billion to support AI.

These plans come with a cost: increasing energy needs, strain on power grids, and potentially more carbon emissions and water use.

We actually don’t have a firm handle on how much greenhouse gas emissions are produced by training and running generative AI models. Emissions calculations lump in AI with the much broader information and communications technology sector, which accounts for 2 per cent to 6 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s on par with – or exceeds – the aviation industry.

The Verge also reported: After pledging to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, Microsoft’s climate pollution has grown by 30 percent as the company prioritizes AI.

(The Globe and Mail)

ThinkLabs AI spins out of GE with $6.8 million CAD to simplify electrical grid management

Two years after selling his last cleantech company to General Electric, Toronto-based technology entrepreneur Josh Wong has spun his next one out of GE’s energy business, GE Vernova, and secured $6.8 million CAD ($5 million USD) in seed funding to fuel its launch.

ThinkLabs is developing software to help utility control room operators and planners maintain grid reliability and reduce bottlenecks and outages at a time when utilities’ workforces are also rapidly aging and retiring.

ThinkLabs’ flagship Grid Copilot software is a digital assistant that uses AI-based digital twins to help electric utilities more autonomously orchestrate the grid.


“I lost trust”: Why the OpenAI team in charge of safeguarding humanity imploded

Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike announced their departures from OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, on Tuesday. They were the leaders of the company’s superalignment team — the team tasked with ensuring that AI stays aligned with the goals of its makers, rather than acting unpredictably and harming humanity.

Since last November — when OpenAI’s board tried to fire CEO Sam Altman only to see him quickly claw his way back to power — at least five more of the company’s most safety-conscious employees have either quit or been pushed out.

According to sources familiar with the company, safety-minded employees have lost faith in [Altman].


Bōde secures new funding to streamline home sales with AI

Calgary-based Bōde has secured $4 million CAD in fresh funding to make the home sale process simpler (and cheaper) for most Canadians.

The company offers a platform for buying and selling property with claims of reduced friction and costs for all involved. Sellers can get their properties listed in a few clicks and can complete the sale through its platform with automatically populated provincial standard contracts and the help of its AI agent, Bōdie.


Snowflake Is in Talks to Buy Reka AI for $1 Billion

Snowflake Inc. is in talks to acquire startup Reka AI for more than $1 billion, expanding the software maker’s effort to offer generative AI capabilities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Reka AI makes large language models. Snowflake makes tools to organize and analyze data in the cloud and sees generative AI, which produces text, voice or images in response to users’ prompts, as an accelerant to its business.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Vantage Points: Hear from four founders on the state of Canadian tech

What happens when you bring old and new generations of tech into the same room?

BetaKit has compiled a series of Q&As from an early-stage founder, a scaling founder, a seasoned repeat founder, and a newcomer to the ecosystem who spoke at last week’s BetaKit Town Hall.

MedEssist’s Joella Almeida spoke on why being the ‘Shopify for Pharmacies’ is not enough.

Cohere co-founder Ivan Zhang expressed why Canadian tech is great at creating winners, but terrible at keeping them here.

Serial entrepreneur Ali Asaria warned tech about getting lost in its own “bubble” and how the ecosystem can beat the US.

Learn from 22-year-old Jocelyne Murphy, who spoke to the lack of meaningful mentorship for young entrepreneurs, frustrating hiring practices, and how the cost of living gets in the way of innovation.


CoreWeave raises $7.5 billion in debt deal led by Blackstone, others

Specialized cloud services provider CoreWeave is raising $7.5 billion in debt from financiers led by Blackstone and Magnetar Capital to scale up its infrastructure to meet rising artificial intelligence workloads, it said on Friday.

The deal is one of the largest debt financing rounds for a startup and adds firepower to CoreWeave’s balance sheet as it looks to double its number of data centers to 28 this year.


Q1 Canadian VC funding posts mixed results as PE market rebounds, CVCA reports

The first quarter of 2024 saw mixed results in terms of venture capital funding and a significant pickup in private equity activity, according to a new report.

Nearly $1.3 billion CAD in total VC financing was deployed into Canadian technology startups across 128 deals during Q1, per data collected by the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. Both declined relative to Q4 2023.

In terms of total dollars invested, this represented an eight percent increase relative to the first quarter of 2023, fuelled by financings from artificial intelligence startups like Ideogram, Spellbook, and Borderless AI, healthtech companies including PocketHealth and Flosonics Medical, FinTech firm Helcim, and last-mile delivery provider UniUni.


Schwartz Reisman Institute at the University of Toronto releases public opinion on AI report

In late 2023, researchers from the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society and other partners from the University of Toronto performed a survey on public perceptions and attitudes toward AI. The survey was administered to over 1,000 people in 21 countries, for a total of 23,882 surveys conducted in 12 languages.

The report found that Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States consistently rank at the bottom of AI usage and trust, while China, Indonesia, India, and Kenya consistently rank at the top. The report also says that only 1 in 5 people believe tech companies can be trusted to self-regulate, and that trust in government regulation coincides with greater AI optimism.

(Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society)

The best place to aim AI? The mirror

Zoho Canada recently hosted a webinar on the topic of generative AI in business intelligence and how the tool can be deployed to make organizations more data-driven.

The discussion offered four key insights for startups thinking about applying generative AI within their operations, and featured Matt Aslett, director of research, data, and analytics at Information Services Group’s Ventana Research, and Zoho Canada’s Chandrashekar Lalapet Srinivas Prasanna.


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Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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