A|I: The AI Times – At I/O, Google makes up for lost time

Plus: Bessemer and SoftBank bet big on AI.

The AI Times is a weekly newsletter covering the biggest AI, machine learning, big data, and automation news from around the globe.

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American biotech Recursion acquires two Canadian AI drug-discovery companies, Cyclica and Valence (BETAKIT)

Recursion, a drug-discovery company based in Salt Lake City, will buy Canadian AI drug-discovery companies Cyclica for $53.4 million CAD ($40 million USD), and Valence for $63.4 million CAD ($47.5 million USD). It expects both acquisitions to be completed in the second quarter of 2023.

Exclusive: Bessemer Venture Partners is committing $1 billion to invest in A.I. startups (FORTUNE)

Bessemer Venture Partners has decided to go big, directing $1 billion of its deployable to invest in A.I.

A hefty sum that partner Talia Goldberg says is Bessemer putting out a signal to founders that they’re serious about A.I., they have cash for it, and they’re ready to spend it.

Attabotics sues Canadian Tire over warehouse fire (BETAKIT)

Calgary-based 3D robotics supply chain firm Attabotics has filed a statement of claim against Canadian Tire over a March 15 warehouse fire at Canadian Tire’s distribution centre in Brampton, Ontario.

Attabotics alleges that as a result of Canadian Tire’s “alleged evasiveness and obstruction,” it has suffered and continues to suffer damages for which Canadian Tire is liable.


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SoftBank Says Goodbye to Alibaba, Hello to More AI Investments

Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group said it was getting ready to go on the offensive again with its eye on investing in artificial-intelligence companies, a buzzy area it has long targeted but failed to capitalize on.

One of the world’s most influential tech investors, SoftBank has been in a defensive crouch for over a year, slashing its once profligate spending after many of its investments in startups went sour during the recent tech downturn.

“A new bottom”: Toronto and Waterloo Region venture funding fell short in first quarter of 2023 (BETAKIT)

Venture funding in Toronto and the Waterloo Region had a particularly sluggish start to 2023, with startups in the neighbouring tech ecosystems raising less than eight percent of what was raised in the same quarter last year.

How Google is making up for lost time (THE VERGE)

The arrival of ChatGPT last year sent a rare shiver through Google’s spine. For years the company had positioned itself as a leader in the development in artificial intelligence. Suddenly, though, a product from the upstart OpenAI rocketed to tens of millions of monthly users — and observers began asking whether Google had squandered its lead.

A handful of products have shipped since — most notably Bard, the company’s ChatGPT analog. But on Wednesday, at the company’s annual developer conference, the floodgates opened. At Google I/O, a torrent of new AI features were announced, touching nearly every part of the company’s product lineup.

BC venture deal volume reached a three-year low in first quarter of 2023 (BETAKIT)

According to briefed.in's latest report, in the first quarter of 2021, startups in BC raised a total of $95.1 million through nine deals. Investment in terms of dollars raised fell by 78 percent from the fourth quarter of 2022 and 82 percent year-over-year. (All dollar amounts are in CAD)

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to testify before Congress for the first time next week (CNBC)

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman will testify before Congress for the first time next week as lawmakers are urgently seeking to figure out how to regulate rapidly advancing artificial intelligence tools.

Last week, Altman joined other tech CEOs for a meeting at the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss risks associated with AI.

How startups can better manage their e-waste (BETAKIT)

The life cycle of electronics needs to be re-envisioned, said Electronic Recycling Association (ERA) managing director Andrew Wesolowski, especially if we want to sustain the environment we inhabit.

Wesolowski said startups are the target businesses the ERA aims to help with the equipment it repurposes, as they "typically would not have much to discard since they are just entering the market."

Report: powerful, new foundation models set to transform how businesses use AI (BETAKIT)

A report from Accenture says that while artificial intelligence (AI) is still in its infancy, a subset of the field called foundation models could have an overwhelming impact on businesses.

“The potential of these models to transform workflows and improve productivity, even in highly complex tasks, is undeniable,” Accenture reports

The open-source AI boom is built on Big Tech’s handouts. How long will it last? (MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW<)

Last week a leaked memo reported to have been written by Luke Sernau, a senior engineer at Google, said out loud what many in Silicon Valley must have been whispering for weeks: an open-source free-for-all is threatening Big Tech’s grip on AI.

OpenAI is already reversing its previous open policy because of competition fears. And Meta may start wanting to curb the risk that upstarts will do unpleasant things with its open-source code.

BDC, Vanedge invest in semiconductor startup Bonsai Micro to create advanced wireless networks (BETAKIT)

As part of its goal to develop the critical infrastructure technology for next-generation wireless networks, Vancouver startup Bonsai Micro has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from BDC Capital and Vanedge Capital.

Bonsai Micro is developing fabless semiconductors that combine what it calls “cutting-edge” wireless technology with machine learning. The goal is to help create “critical” infrastructure technology for next-generation wireless networks like 5G.

UVeye secures $100 million Series D for automated vehicle-inspection systems (CTECH)

UVeye, which develops automated vehicle inspection systems for the auto industry, has raised $100 million in Series D funding.

The Israeli startup offers vehicle-inspection systems based on AI, computer-vision and machine-learning technologies that detect vehicle damage and mechanical issues.

Next Canada names startups in latest cohorts for its three accelerators (BETAKIT)

Next Canada, a not-for-profit organization that provides support programs to Canadian entrepreneurs, has unveiled the startups participating in the latest cohorts of Next AI.

Among the participating startups for this year’s cohort of Next AI is Blue Guardian, which uses AI to detect early signs of mental health issues in youth, and Yuko AI, which is designed to assist health workers in skin disease management.

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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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