The AI Times is a weekly newsletter covering the biggest AI, machine learning, big data, and automation news from around the globe.
If you want to read A|I before anyone else, make sure to subscribe using this form.
TechBrew rebrands to 4AG Robotics, closes $17.5-million Series A to build mushroom-picking robots (BETAKIT)
Salmon Arm, BC-based mushroom-picking technology startup TechBrew Robotics has changed its name to 4AG Robotics and secured $17.5 million CAD in Series A funding.
4AG has developed fully autonomous, vision-guided robots designed to squeeze into mushroom-growing racks and gently pick, trim, clean, and pack them all hours of the day. 4AG intends to ramp up the production of its robots and grow its 37-person team to 60 with hires in mechatronics, research and development, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and manufacturing.
Everything you need to know about the sudden firing of Sam Altman
The tech world was shocked to find Sam Altman was fired as CEO of OpenAI on Friday afternoon, with chief technology officer Mira Murati stepping in as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent CEO successor.
In a statement, the board said Altman was “not consistently candid” with the board and has lost confidence in his ability to lead OpenAI. Co-founder and president Greg Brockman was meant to step down as chairman of the board but remain at the company, but took to X (Twitter) to declare he was quitting over the changes.
The Information has reported there were internal disagreements about Altman’s leadership, feeling he was moving too quickly to commercialize the software—which had become a billion-dollar business—at the expense of potential safety concerns. The shake-up has since put a share sale that would have valued OpenAI at $86 billion in limbo and Altman has reportedly told investors he’s going to launch a new AI venture.
Following the uproar behind Altman’s departure, the OpenAI board was reportedly in conversations on Saturday to resign their positions and reinstate the former CEO, but missed a 5:00 PM PT deadline in which more OpenAI employees loyal to Altman were set to resign if the decision was not reversed.
On Sunday, Altman posted a picture of himself on X holding a guest pass with the caption “first and last time i ever wear one of these,” which The Verge reported came during another negotiation with the board with yet another 5:00 PM PT deadline. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was reportedly mediating the discussion between Altman, Brockman, and the four current board members attempting to select a new board as a condition of Altman’s return.
Bringing him back might come with its own set of headaches.
The mysterious circumstances behind the sudden ouster reminded Eric Newcomer of Altman’s underexplored departure from Y Combinator in 2019, where it was announced he would become president, then chairman, then quietly replaced without explanation.
While chief strategy officer Jason Kwon told staffers in a memo Saturday night that the company is “optimistic” it can bring back Altman along with the other key employees who departed, it appears the ship has sailed.
Late into Sunday night, the OpenAI board announced that former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear is the company’s new CEO, its third CEO in three days. Meanwhile, Nadella said that Microsoft “remains committed” to its partnership with OpenAI, but announced Altman, Brockman and “colleagues” are joining Microsoft to “lead a new advanced AI research team.” Altman will hold the CEO title of this new group, which is a title that Microsoft typically uses for the leaders of big divisions, as Tom Warren points out.
The fallout continued into Monday morning when OpenAI cofounder, chief scientist, and board member Ilya Sutskever expressed his “deep regret” in being part of the decision to oust Altman, saying he will “do everything” he can to reunite the company. Kara Swisher reported that Sutskever signed onto a letter, along with 505 of OpenAI’s 700 employees, calling on the board to resign their positions after reinstating Altman and Brockman or they would join the new Microsoft AI subsidiary. The letter stated that Microsoft assured OpenAI employees that there are positions available should they choose to join.
As the new interim CEO, Shear said on X that the “process and communications around Sam’s removal has been handled very badly,” and pledged a three-point plan to be enacted over the next 30 days, including hiring an independent investigator to generate a report about the events, speaking to employees, and reforming the management and leadership team.
Shear went on to say that “the board did not remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that.”
Ambyint, which provides AI-powered optimization software for the oil and gas industry, is bringing its headquarters back to Calgary four years after the company moved to Houston, Texas.
While Ambyint’s CEO Benjamin Kemp said the company plans to maintain its presence in Houston, “there’s undiluted capital available,” referring to government programs that support scaleup companies that reduce emissions, in Canada that is not available at the same volume in the US market.
How to get hybrid work right for the long term
Did you know 89% of workers and decision-makers are onside for hybrid work?
As evolving working arrangements become a reality for more organizations, there are concerns about sustaining productivity, avoiding employee burnout, and anticipating the impact of new technologies like generative AI.
With employees working from anywhere at anytime, hybrid work is straining the capacity of IT teams and budgets, while introducing new security risks that can’t be ignored.
What can Canadian companies do to solve the challenges and take advantage of the rewards of hybrid work over the long term?
Download this article featuring a conversation with a hybrid work expert discussing best practices to ensure that businesses in 2023 are getting hybrid work right for the long term.
If Adrian Aoun, the outspoken founder and CEO of primary care startup Forward, had his way, the next time you visit the doctor’s office, you won’t see a single medical professional. In fact, he wants you to entrust your health to a landmark new product, the CarePod—a whirring, purring autonomous module.
“I just want to take every single thing that doctors and nurses are doing and migrate it over to hardware and software,” he said.
The unveiling of the CarePod comes alongside a $100 million Series E round that will help Forward build and deploy the devices, having raised over $400 million since its 2017 founding and was last valued at $1 billion in 2021.
Pathway raises $5 million in seed funding, opens free access to healthcare guidance platform (BETAKIT)
Montréal-based healthtech startup Pathway has raised $5 million in seed funding for its AI-powered medical knowledge platform.
The company also announced its decision to make its platform openly accessible with a free account and unveiled the beta version of Pathway AI, which it claims is its most advanced AI assistant and search tool to date. The new AI tool allows users to ask medical queries and receive a response drawing from Pathway’s database.
Why the Godfather of A.I. Fears What He’s Built (THE NEW YORKER)
Geoffrey Hinton believes that, by analyzing human writing, a large language model like GPT learns how the world works, producing a system capable of thought; writing is only part of what that system can do. “It’s analogous to how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly,” he went on. “In the chrysalis, you turn the caterpillar into soup—and from this soup you build the butterfly.”
The New Yorker followed Hinton on a hike and in his home to learn more about what makes the “the godfather of AI” a dissenting voice in the conversation of his creation.
InBC invests $29 million into 4AG Robotics, Clarius Mobile Health, Pender, Amplitude Ventures (BETAKIT)
InBC Investment Corp. (InBC) has announced $29 million CAD worth of investments into two tech startups and two venture capital funds with a presence in British Columbia.
$4 million went into AgTech startup 4AG Robotics, $5 million into wireless ultrasound producer Clarius Mobile Health, and $10 million apiece into Pender Ventures’ and Amplitude Ventures’ second funds, which both have a focus on healthtech.
Andreessen Horowitz, an influential Silicon Valley venture capital firm also known as a16z, has invested in Civitai, a giant platform for sharing AI models that enables and profits from the creation of AI generated nonconsensual sexual images of real people. That includes launching a feature where people can list “bounties” for others to create AI models of specific targets.
The finance department touches every single area of the business, from internal operations to customer contracts. Yet the finance function has been relatively stagnant, often seen as “bean counters” warning of new spending while the rest of the organization embraces technology and new techniques.
A recent report by Float featured interviews with startup finance experts, exploring in detail why financial transformation is essential for startups now, impacting their people, processes, and systems.
Nvidia has unveiled the H200, a graphics processing unit designed for training and deploying the kinds of artificial intelligence models that are powering the generative AI boom.
The new GPU is an upgrade from the H100, the chip OpenAI used to train its most advanced large language model, GPT-4. Big companies, startups and government agencies are all vying for a limited supply of the chips.
The third quarter of 2023 marked Canada’s slowest quarter for venture capital (VC) activity in three years, according to a new report from the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA).
The CVCA partly attributed the slowdown in investment to a decline in megadeals during the quarter and its resulting impact on average deal size. Per the report, only seven megadeals closed in Q3, nearly halving the average deal size quarter-over-quarter to just $8.9 million.
UK will refrain from regulating AI ‘in the short term’
The UK’s first minister for AI and intellectual property, Viscount Jonathan Camrose, said at a Financial Times conference on Thursday that there would be no UK law on AI “in the short term” because the government was concerned that heavy-handed regulation could curb industry growth.
The Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) Thrive Lab is ready to begin deploying capital in women-led businesses from its $35 million envelope following the announcement of 25 co-investment partners.
Thrive Lab said its partners were chosen based on their track record of supporting women entrepreneurs or their expertise in social impact.
Thrive Lab’s first phase will target firms aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as food security, responsible agriculture, health and well-being, education, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production.
Feature image courtesy Ideogram.