A|I: The AI Times – OpenAI’s “whether you like it or not” philosophy

Plus: Shopify's Tobi Lütke will help advise Meta's AI strategy.

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OpenAI Just Gave Away the Entire Game

If you’re looking to understand the philosophy that underpins Silicon Valley’s latest gold rush, look no further than OpenAI’s Scarlett Johansson debacle.

Johansson and Altman allegedly never spoke, and Johansson allegedly never granted OpenAI permission to use her voice. Nevertheless, the company debuted Sky two days later—a program with a voice many believed was alarmingly similar to Johansson’s.

On its own, this seems to be yet another example of a tech company blowing past ethical concerns and operating with impunity. But the situation is also a tidy microcosm of the raw deal at the center of generative AI, a technology that is built off data scraped from the internet, generally without the consent of creators or copyright owners.

The hypothetical superintelligence they are building is too big, too world-changing, too important for prosaic concerns such as copyright and attribution. The Johansson scandal is merely a reminder of AI’s manifest-destiny philosophy: This is happening, whether you like it or not.

(The Atlantic)

Forma.ai’s first acquisition nets fellow Toronto sales software startup SeaMonster

Forma.ai has purchased fellow Toronto-based sales software startup SeaMonster in what marks its first acquisition to date.

Forma.ai sells artificial intelligence-powered sales performance management software to businesses. The company’s technology helps organizations optimize how they compensate their salespeople.


Meta’s Zuckerberg Creates Council to Advise on AI Products

Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has created a new product advisory council — a group that will meet periodically with Meta’s management team and offer guidance on the company’s artificial intelligence and technology advancements.

The Meta Advisory Group, as it will be called, will be made up of four executives: Stripe Inc. CEO and co-founder Patrick Collison; former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman; Shopify Inc. CEO Tobi Lütke; and Charlie Songhurst, an investor and former Microsoft Corp. executive.

The group’s creation comes as Meta seeks to reinvigorate its drive into AI-focused products

(BNN Bloomberg)

CoLab raises $28.6-million CAD Series B to grow its team and incorporate AI

Newfoundland’s CoLab Software has raised $28.6 million CAD ($21 million USD) in Series B funding as it looks to expand its team and incorporate artificial intelligence into its engineering design collaboration and communications platform.

While the company “didn’t need to raise the round,” according to co-founder and CEO Adam Keating, he added that CoLab decided to keep up with “aggressive market pull” over the last 12 months by expanding its engineering teams.

CoLab said it will add between 30 to 40 jobs to its St. John’s, N.L headquarters, including three executive hires in a vice-president of people, vice-president of customer success, and vice-president of sales, which has already been filled.


Leaked OpenAI documents reveal aggressive tactics toward former employees

On Friday, Vox reported that employees at tech giant OpenAI who wanted to leave the company were confronted with expansive and highly restrictive exit documents. If they refused to sign in relatively short order, they were reportedly threatened with the loss of their vested equity in the company — a severe provision that’s fairly uncommon in Silicon Valley. The policy had the effect of forcing ex-employees to choose between giving up what could be millions of dollars they had already earned or agreeing not to criticize the company, with no end date.

According to sources inside the company, the news caused a firestorm within OpenAI, a private company that is currently valued at some $80 billion. As with many Silicon Valley startups, employees at OpenAI often get the majority of their overall expected compensation in the form of equity. They tend to assume that once it has “vested,” according to the schedule laid out in their contract, it is theirs and cannot be taken back, any more than a company would claw back salary that has been paid out.


DIGITAL invests $10.5 million across four AI projects from healthtech startups

Canada’s Global Innovation Cluster for digital technologies (DIGITAL) is investing $10.5 million across four projects from Canadian startups working on integrating artificial intelligence into healthcare.

The projects aim to use AI to speed up clinical trials, improve connecting patients to doctors, improve file management for home care workers, and improve wound treatment. Private sector partner investments alongside DIGITAL’s contribution bring the value of the projects up to approximately $26 million.


Meta’s AI Chief: AI Models Like ChatGPT Won’t Reach Human Intelligence

The type of artificial intelligence that powers systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini will not be able to reach human levels of intelligence, Meta’s AI chief Yann LeCun told the Financial Times in an interview published Wednesday, giving an insight into how the tech giant plans to develop the technology moving forward just weeks after its plans to invest heavily spooked investors and erased hundreds of billions from its market value.


Startupfest shares full schedule for 2024 tech festival

Montréal technology festival Startupfest has released a detailed agenda for its upcoming event, which will take place at the Grand Quay from July 10 until July 12 this summer.

Speakers and mentors at Startupfest will include Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman, and BetaKit chair Satish Kanwar.

Like in years past, Startupfest 2024 will feature educational talks, workshops, and networking opportunities for startups, investors, and other players from across Canada’s tech ecosystem.


Wearable AI Startup Humane Explores Potential Sale, Sources Say

Artificial intelligence startup Humane Inc. has been seeking a buyer for its business, according to people familiar with the matter, just weeks after the company’s closely watched wearable AI device had a rocky public launch.

Humane is seeking a price of between $750 million and $1 billion in a sale, one person said. The process is still early and may not result in a deal.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Pesa is banking on Canadians’ sense of duty

Tolu Osho knows first-hand the sense of responsibility that many newcomers to Canada feel when it comes to sending money back home.

“I started thinking about solving this problem on how to ensure that people can transfer or send money back home at a reasonable cost,” said Osho.

In 2021, Oshu worked with software engineers Yusuf Yakubu and Adewale Afolabi to launch Pesa, an app that aims to make sending and receiving funds across borders as hassle-free as transferring money locally.

“There’s a culture shock when it comes to the financial aspects of moving to a new country,” he said. “We want to be able to get people familiarized with this experience, even before you land or just when you land, so that it looks like you never missed a beat.”


Amii secures $3 million from PrairiesCan to fuel AI adoption in the Prairies

Through Prairies Economic Development Canada, the federal government is investing more than $3 million CAD into an Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) project.

According to Amii, the investment will allow the Edmonton-based AI research and development hub to provide tailored support to up to 30 Prairie-based SMBs over the next three years.


Daniel Vranesic of TXIO is on a mission to improve personal finance

You would think that Daniel Vranesic, CEO of Toronto-based TXIO, would be difficult to surprise with numbers.

For years, TXIO has licensed its banking, payments and brokerage platform to a range of global clients. But when the company developed Neontra, an app for managing and planning personal finance, Vranesic decided to test the product’s “non-essential spending” category on himself.

“I knew I made too many non-essential purchases, especially sports-related gear for my kids,” he said. “But when our AI-generated insights told me how my non-essential spending compared to the average Canadian, I was shocked.”


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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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