A|I: The AI Times – Embark Trucks explores liquidation, AI beer invades Alberta

a red transport truck driving toward the camera with an orange tinted backdrop
Plus: How the Silicon Valley Bank shutdown might impact Canadian tech

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How the Silicon Valley Bank shutdown might impact Canadian tech (BETAKIT)

The run on Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has ended almost as quickly as it started, with news breaking Friday that the bank has been closed by regulators, which have taken control of its deposits.

This dramatic and quick downfall for one of tech's most prominent financial institutions is likely to have cascading effects across not only Silicon Valley but Canadian tech.

Startup by Ex-Apple Executives Raises $100 Million, Partners With OpenAI, Microsoft (THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

A startup founded by former Apple Inc. executives unveiled a new investment round of $100 million and partnerships with OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, as well as Microsoft Corp.

Humane Inc., founded by Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, plans to launch a product this spring that incorporates artificial intelligence into a consumer device.

Adaptis secures $2 million CAD to help building owners move to net zero with AI (BETAKIT)

Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of energy-related global carbon emissions, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Adaptis claims its platform automates and optimizes the planning process for building owners and consultants who are working to make their property more energy efficient and trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their buildings. 

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Register for Inventures 2023 today.

Embark Trucks lays off workers, explores liquidation of self-driving truck assets (TECHCRUNCH)

Embark Trucks, the autonomous trucking company that went public in 2021 via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, is cutting 70% of its workforce and shutting down two offices. CEO Alex Rodrigues also noted in an email to employees that the remaining 30% of workers will focus on winding down operations.

The layoffs come more than a month after banking advisory firm Evercore met with various AV companies to explore selling Embark’s assets, according to one source.

Sanctuary marks first commercial test of “human-like” robots in Mark’s clothing store (BETAKIT)

According to the Vancouver startup, the week-long pilot at the Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC)-owned store saw the robot complete 110 retail-related tasks correctly, including picking and packing merchandise, cleaning, labelling, folding, and more.

ChatGPT wouldn’t exist without Canadian AI pioneers. Why one fears for the future (GLOBAL NEWS)

OpenAI is not a Canadian company, but perhaps it should have been.

Three men are lauded as the godfathers of AI, and their work has almost certainly touched your life. Two of them are Canadian: Yoshua Bengio of the Université de Montréal and Geoffrey Hinton of the University of Toronto. The third, Yann LeCun, is French, but some of his most groundbreaking research was done at Bell Labs and U of T.

Toronto venture funding saw a “return to sanity” in 2022 (BETAKIT)

Toronto’s venture funding in 2022 may have dipped from a record-breaking 2021, but still far surpassed 2020 and 2019, signalling a “return to sanity” for the city’s tech sector. Meanwhile, the Waterloo Region saw a continued decline in venture funding activity throughout 2022, culminating in a four-year low in deal volume.

FBI, Pentagon helped research facial recognition for street cameras, drones (THE WASHINGTON POST)

Program leaders worked with FBI scientists and some of the nation’s leading computer-vision experts to design and test software that would quickly and accurately process the “truly unconstrained face imagery” recorded by surveillance cameras in public places, including subway stations and street corners, according to documents, which the ACLU shared with The Washington Post.

To refine the system’s capabilities, researchers staged a data-gathering test in 2017, paying dozens of volunteers to simulate real-world scenarios at a Defense Department training facility made to resemble a hospital, a subway station, an outdoor marketplace and a school.

Ten things worth reading on International Women’s Day (BETAKIT)

For International Women’s Day, BetaKit has updated the following list with new talking points, educational tools, and support resources. BetaKit has also updated its list of programs and organizations that support Canadian women in tech.

The semiautomated social network is coming (THE VERGE)

LinkedIn isn’t populating its feed with AI chatbots just yet, but last week began sharing “AI-powered conversation starters” with the express purpose of provoking discussion among users. These posts are “developed” with the help of LinkedIn’s editorial team and matched with human experts who can then offer their thoughts on topics like “how to create a consistent brand voice on social media” and “how to monitor the online reach of your writing.”

Six months after petition launch, federal minister calls market benefits plan “essential” to Global Talent Stream visa (BETAKIT)

The Plan requires participating companies in the Global Talent Stream to demonstrate how their hiring of international talent is having “positive impacts” on the local labour market.

It’s an aspect of the program that some in the Canadian startup community see as a time-consuming barrier built into a program meant to streamline hiring talent from abroad.

Bot takes over brewmaster's chair for northern Alberta brewery's first AI-designed beer (CBC)

Amber Waves of Grain, released in February by Grain Bin Brewing Company, is an amber ale in which everything — the name, the price, the packaging and the recipe — was decided by OpenAI's Chat GPT.

"I wouldn't have a problem with AI-generated beer," said Michael Gänzle, a University of Alberta food microbiology professor. "I have a problem with bad beer."

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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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