A|I: The AI Times – Cohere releases Coral, Shopify unveils AI suite

Plus: Yoshua Bengio issues stark warning to U.S. Senate.

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MindBridge closes $60 million USD from US growth equity firm, appoints interim CEO (BETAKIT)

Ottawa-based artificial intelligence (AI) company MindBridge, which describes itself as “the world’s leading AI-powered financial risk discovery platform,” has raised $60 million USD.

The investment follows the recent departures of MindBridge founder and chief development officer Solon Angel and CEO Leyton Perris. Bill Hewitt, a senior advisor with PSG and a veteran American software executive, has since been appointed interim CEO.

Canadian AI maven Yoshua Bengio issues stark warning to U.S. Senate (THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Canadian artificial intelligence researcher Yoshua Bengio told a U.S. Senate subcommittee Tuesday that AI systems capable of human-level intelligence could be a few years away and pose potentially catastrophic risks.

“There is a significant probability that superhuman AI is just a few years away, outpacing our ability to comprehend the various risks and establish sufficient guardrails, particularly against the more catastrophic scenarios,” he said in his written testimony.

Shopify reveals AI suite, business credit card, dropshipping-like feature in latest product showcase (BETAKIT)

Earlier this month, Ottawa retail-tech giant Shopify unveiled its AI assistant for merchants, Sidekick, which the company claims can craft and complete administrative tasks such as responding to customer inquiries and making design changes to the online storefront.

Now, the company has unveiled several new products and updates for its merchants as part of its 2023 Summer Editions. This includes a business credit card for everyday expenses, created in partnership with Stripe, and dropshipping-like capabilities through its new Shopify Collective offering.

Tickets are still available for Elevate Festival!

Elevate Festival, Canada’s premiere tech and innovation festival, takes place from Sept. 26-28 in the heart of Toronto. This year’s Main Stage speakers include Knix CEO & Founder, Joanna Griffiths; acclaimed journalist & broadcaster, Lisa LaFlamme; Astronaut & Elevate Co-Chair, Col. Chris Hadfield; Executive Director of Action Canada, Farrah Khan, and Chief Diversity Officer of Meta, Maxine Williams!

Highlights include 8 content tracks featuring important discussions in AI, Cybersecurity, Fintech, Future Societies, and more; a Tech Talent Zone for job seekers; Elevate Goes Late parties with live music & street eats; 1:1 meetings for Startups with Canada’s top investors; a dedicated Women+ in Tech stream, and infinite chances to network, cultivate community, and level up!

Grab your tickets now at elevatefestival.ca/tickets.

Cohere releases Coral, AI assistant designed for enterprise business use (VENTUREBEAT)

Canadian AI company Cohere has released Coral, a “knowledge assistant” designed specifically for enterprise business use. The company said Coral was specifically developed to help knowledge workers across industries receive responses to requests specific to their sectors, based on their proprietary company data.

Foxquilt raises $12 million to expand small business insurance solution in North America (BETAKIT)

Toronto-based Foxquilt, which offers online insurance solutions for small businesses, has raised $12 million in Series B funding.

Foxquilt develops, underwrites, and distributes a line of its own commercial insurance products, leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to match businesses to the insurance products that are most tailored to their specific needs.

AI industry leaders create forum to build powerful tech safely (REUTERS)

OpenAI, Microsoft, Alphabet's Google and Anthropic are launching a forum to regulate the development of large machine learnings models, the industry leaders of artificial intelligence said on Wednesday.

The industry body, Frontier Model Forum, will work to advance AI safety research, identify best practices for deployment of frontier AI models and work with policymakers, academic and companies.

PasswordBox, Intel alums build enterprise low-code tool for natural language models (BETAKIT)

Led by a team with a decade of experience building artificial intelligence (AI) and deep technology products, Montréal-based HumanFirst aims to “make working with natural language data natural.”

HumanFirst aims to help with its low-code “natural language data productivity suite,” which is designed to help companies turn that data into business insights and custom AI more easily and cost-effectively.

AI is coming for e-commerce—but businesses should approach with caution, warns a leading investor (THE LOGIC)

Seventy-five firms whose AI products could shake up e-commerce raised a record $503 million in venture capital investment in 2022, according to new research.

Wittington Ventures director Qasim Mohammad warns that fellow investors and retailers should be cautious amid the hype as many questions around how best to incorporate AI into services remain unanswered.

Canadian venture status report: Q2 2023 (BETAKIT)

New data from briefed.in gives an optimistic outlook on the venture health of Canada's biggest tech ecosystems in Q2 2023.

Following a sluggish start to the year, Toronto and British Columbia's tech ecosystems saw a resurgence in venture funding in the quarter, mostly due to larger deals between fewer companies. 

Alberta tech is on pace to eclipse its 2022, with companies raising a lively $123.8M in Q2 2023. Québec follows suit, maintaining an upward trajectory in the quarter, growing 42 percent from Q1 2023 and 81 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, venture deal volume in the Waterloo Region reached a three-year low in the second quarter of 2023, but unreported deals could be shaping an unfair perception of the local tech sector.

To Watermark AI, It Needs Its Own Alphabet (WIRED)

Only a few months ago, AI content was easy to spot: unnatural inflections in speech, weird earlobes in photos, bland language in writing. With scammers using an AI to impersonate a daughter’s voice and rob her mother, this is no longer appears to be the case.

We need a way to distinguish things made by humans from things made by algorithms, and we need it very soon. In fact, this system already exists: Unicode.

Canadian tech unicorns Ada, Clio, Lightspeed among first cohort of Canada’s Global Hypergrowth Project (BETAKIT)

Canadian tech unicorns Ada, Clio, and Lightspeed are among the eight businesses selected to take part in the first cohort of the Government of Canada’s Global Hypergrowth Project (GHP).

According to the federal government, GHP is meant to help its selection of businesses become “anchor firms,” which it defines as companies with annual revenues of over $1 billion and employees numbering more than 1,500 people.

An AI Startup Is Helping North American Diesel Trains Clean Up Their Act (BNN BLOOMBERG)

Montreal-based RailVision Analytics has developed artificial intelligence-enabled software to help locomotive engineers make small adjustments in train driving that could lead to big savings in diesel fuel.

After raising $5.5 million last year, a multinational railroad operator whose business includes freight trains in Canada, has recently rolled out a pilot with RailVision for its cargo service between Montreal and Quebec City.

Impact of Canada’s H-1B visa talent grab may go well beyond 10,000 applicants (BETAKIT)

Though Canada's new H-1B visa program was only announced weeks ago, it’s already having a profound impact. In developing a visa program unapologetically piggybacking on America’s H-1B visa process—and in many ways, offering a clear contrast to its limitations—the IRCC appears to have struck a nerve.

When the program's online portal launched on July 16, its 10,000 application limit had been reached by the next evening.

Researchers Poke Holes in Safety Controls of ChatGPT and Other Chatbots (THE NEW YORK TIMES)

In a report released on Thursday, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the Center for A.I. Safety in San Francisco showed how anyone could circumvent A.I. safety measures and use any of the leading chatbots to generate nearly unlimited amounts of harmful information.

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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