A|I: The AI Times – Cohere had a busy week

Plus: How Apple fell behind in the AI arms race.

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Cohere launches program to help early-stage startups adopt AI and secures $450 million USD

Toronto-based generative artificial intelligence startup Cohere has closed $450 million USD in fresh funding and launched a program aimed at supporting early-stage AI innovation.

The funding marks the first tranche of Cohere’s months-long fundraising efforts, through which the company hopes to raise more capital at a $5 billion valuation.

Cohere also launched a new Startup Program targeted toward companies at the Series B stage or before. Cohere noted in a blog post that through this initiative, it aims to help other businesses leverage AI at an affordable price point.

A parliamentary submission published this week also revealed the startup has asked for amendments to Canada’s work-in-progress AI safety bill, the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (also known as AIDA). One of Cohere’s proposals is that organizations deploying AI systems are responsible for conducting risk assessments, rather than the AI system provider.


How Apple Fell Behind in the AI Arms Race

Next week, at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the company is set to join an AI arms race that many think will define the future of technology. The iPhone maker is trying to catch up with Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google and other rivals that have begun to integrate generative AI into their core products.

Apple’s caution and characteristic secrecy, as well as the care it takes in upgrading devices—where hardware and software are seamlessly integrated—have hobbled its early efforts in the AI arena.

(The Wall Street Journal)

McRock Capital announces initial $111-million CAD close of third fund

Toronto-based investment firm McRock Capital has launched its third fund with an initial $111-million CAD ($81 million USD) close for Industrial Internet of Things companies.

Fund III stands to continue the firm’s trend of investing in high-growth companies combining data analytics through artificial intelligence with data from field devices, machines, and equipment in industrial and urban environments, but will start to focus more on software rather than hardware.

“The sector, supercharged by rapid advancements in AI, is a promising area of growth. AI-enabled software’s ability to generate efficiency and productivity in industrial and smart city applications is seriously exciting,” Rockley added.


OpenAI Insiders Warn of a ‘Reckless’ Race for Dominance

A group of OpenAI insiders is blowing the whistle on what they say is a culture of recklessness and secrecy at the San Francisco artificial intelligence company, which is racing to build the most powerful A.I. systems ever created.

The group, which includes nine current and former OpenAI employees, has rallied in recent days around shared concerns that the company has not done enough to prevent its A.I. systems from becoming dangerous.

(The New York Times)

Canada’s AI Global Innovation Cluster invests $31.3 million across 22 projects

Canada’s artificial intelligence Global Innovation Cluster, Scale AI, will be investing $31.3 million across 22 projects looking to incorporate AI into various industries.

The selected projects look to apply AI in many different areas, from supply chains to healthcare, and were selected for their potential to deliver economic and intellectual property advancements. Alongside partner participation, Scale AI says the projects represent a total investment of $96 million.


U.S. sets stage for antitrust probes into Microsoft, OpenAI and Nvidia

The U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have reached a deal that clears the way for potential antitrust investigations into the dominant roles that Microsoft, OpenAI, and Nvidia play in the artificial intelligence industry, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The agreement between the two agencies shows regulatory scrutiny is gathering steam amid concerns over concentration in the industries that make up AI. Microsoft and Nvidia not only dominate their industries, but are two of the world’s biggest companies by market capitalization since Nvidia’s market value recently surpassed US$3-trillion.

(The Globe and Mail)

Anthropic’s AI chatbot, Claude, is now available in Canada

San Francisco-based OpenAI competitor Anthropic has made its artificial intelligence chatbot, Claude, available in Canada.

Starting this week, Claude will be available to Canadians using its website, an iPhone app, and as an API that allows developers to integrate Anthropic’s AI models into their own projects.


After raising $100M, AI fintech LoanSnap is being sued, fined, evicted

AI mortgage startup LoanSnap is facing an avalanche of lawsuits from creditors and has been evicted from its headquarters in Southern California, leaving employees worried about the company’s future, TechCrunch has learned.

LoanSnap, founded by serial entrepreneurs Karl Jacob and Allan Carroll, has raised around $100 million in funding since its 2017 seed round, $90 million of which was raised between 2021 and 2023, according to PitchBook. Investors include Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, the Chainsmokers’ Mantis Ventures, Baseline Ventures, and Reid Hoffman, LoanSnap says.

Despite the capital it raised, since December 2022, LoanSnap has been sued by at least seven creditors, including Wells Fargo, who collectively alleged the startup owes them more than $2 million. LoanSnap has also been fined by state and federal agencies and nearly lost its license to operate in Connecticut, according to legal documents obtained by TechCrunch.


Surveillance hardware tech startup Vosker secures $171.2 million CAD in debt financing

Québec-based hardware startup Vosker has closed $171.2 million CAD ($125 million USD) in debt financing.

The startup offers a tool it claims uses artificial intelligence to help users flag the presence of a human in security images and differentiate it from a vehicle.

Vosker will use the new funding to “recapitalize its debt structure and strategically position itself for future growth initiatives.” In an interview with Bloomberg, Danny Angers said Vosker plans to use the funding to invest in growth in the United States and Europe, and may potentially raise more to fund potential acquisitions.


Nvidia and AMD square off in fight to take control of AI

Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc.’s chiefs showcased new generations of the chips powering the global boom in AI development, deepening a rivalry that may decide the direction of artificial intelligence design and adoption.

Jensen Huang and Lisa Su—both born in Taiwan and now local celebrities for leading U.S. tech powerhouses—employed different tacks in conveying their expertise during back-to-back shows at the world’s largest computing conference this week in Taipei.

“People see Nvidia as a personification of Jensen. And while Lisa is the savior of AMD, she’s very clear that it’s about everyone around her,” said Ian Cutress, chief analyst at the consultancy More Than Moore. “AMD still have that underdog element about the business, and with AI it’s very much true.”

(BNN Bloomberg)

A social app for creatives, Cara, grew from 40k to 650k users in a week because artists are fed up with Meta’s AI policies

Artists have finally had enough with Meta’s predatory AI policies, but Meta’s loss is Cara’s gain. An artist-run, anti-AI social platform, Cara has grown from 40,000 to 650,000 users within the last week, catapulting it to the top of the App Store charts.


Feature image courtesy Cohere.

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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