A|I: The AI Times – Sam Altman is back, Microsoft grabs a board seat, OpenAI plans governance changes

Plus: PASQAL commits $90 million to quantum initiative to DistriQ in Sherbrooke.

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Good Future, the family office of Canadian entrepreneurs Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar, will support the advancement of BetaKit’s business and inject capital as the new majority shareholder. Good Future’s investment will accelerate the growth of BetaKit’s editorial and business teams from coast to coast, with new hires already on the way!


OpenAI Will Add Microsoft as Board Observer, Plans Governance Changes

OpenAI said that Sam Altman was officially reinstated as chief executive officer and that it has a new initial board of directors, with Microsoft joining as a nonvoting observer. Microsoft, the company’s largest investor, had not previously had a position on the board before it took the observer role.

Sam Altman opened up about the factors surrounding his sudden firing two weeks in an interview with The Verge, but still refused to go into why the board fired him in the first place. WIRED reported that, in 2019, OpenAI had signed a $51 million letter of intent with a chip-making startup called Rain that Altman himself has invested in, showing how Altman’s web of personal investments could entangle with his duties as OpenAI CEO. As a result of the recent executive-level chaos, OpenAI delayed the launch of its custom GPT store until early 2024.


PASQAL, Investissement Québec launch $90-million Quantum Computing initiative

French quantum computing firm PASQAL has launched a five-year, $90 million initiative within DistriQ, the quantum innovation zone located in Sherbrooke, Québec.

The project aims to conduct manufacturing and commercialization activities for quantum computers, as well as research and development in collaboration with academic and industrial partners, with an ultimate goal of promoting Sherbrooke as an international quantum hub.



The AI-first customer service revolution had started. Are you prepared for it?

Thanks to generative AI, customer service has quickly scaled the corporate ladder and become a top executive priority.

Did you know 85% of execs say generative AI will be interacting directly with customers in the next two years? As a result, 63% say that they will have invested in generative AI use cases that serve their agents by the end of 2023.

Become an expert on generative AI and separate the buzz from reality with the ultimate guide to generative AI for customer service.

Read our expert guide today.

Canada’s AI rush is on. Will it hit a wall of union resistance?

Organized labour is becoming a powerful voice expressing Canadian workers’ anxieties about AI, with union leaders warning of job loss and surveillance of workers, among other concerns. Their skepticism is becoming a formidable obstacle to employers racing to make use of the technology and could slow its adoption in Canada.

The federal government is also looking to add binding rules for generative AI systems, including requiring firms to test systems and try watermarking for machine-made media, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne told MPs.


Two years after Graphite Ventures spinout, MaRS IAF is ready to invest again

Since its launch in 2008, the Toronto-based MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) has grown into one of the country’s most active early-stage venture capital (VC) firms. But after Graphite Ventures was spun out from IAF in late 2021 as a private sector fund, IAF lost nearly all of its employees. Emil Savov was hired and tasked with rebuilding the IAF team.

His work is now getting closer to completion.

“We’re ramping up,” Savov, IAF’s managing director, told BetaKit in an exclusive interview. “The idea is to bring [IAF] to the strength that it was before the [Graphite] spinoff, and maybe even go beyond that.”


Stability AI Has Explored Sale as Investor Urges CEO to Resign

Stability AI, the British artificial intelligence startup behind the Stable Diffusion image generator, has explored selling the company as management faces increased pressure from investors over its financial position.

The overtures underscore escalating tensions between Stability, once a venture capital darling, and some of its largest investors. Coatue Management called for Chief Executive Officer Emad Mostaque to step down in a letter to management last month, some of the people said.

One of the companies approached as a potential buyer was Cohere, a Canadian startup working on building technology that other businesses can use to create their own AI products, one of the people said. Cohere declined to engage in talks, according to that person.


Three Calgary startups awarded at Launch Party 2023

Alberta tech continues to reinforce startups in its ecosystem as Innovation Week YYC’s 2023 Launch Party bestowed awards upon three of Calgary’s top 10 startups, as named by Launch Party alumni, last Thursday.

AI startups AITHR Automotive Intelligence and OraQ AI took home the Alumni’s Choice Award and the Alex Raczenko Pitch Award, respectively.


Tech Conference Collapses After Organizer Admits to Making Fake ‘Auto-Generated’ Female Speaker
(404 MEDIA)

Viral allegations that Devternity, an online conference for developers, founder Eduard Sizovs fabricated female speakers to boost diversity have caused several big-name speakers to publicly drop out of the conference.

Devternity founder Eduards Sizovs admitted that at least one profile was “auto-generated, with a random title, random Twitter handle, random picture,” used for website testing, and should not have featured in the speaker lineup.

Last week, Sports Illustrated was also found to have AI-generated authors.

“There’s a lot,” an anonymous source told Futurism of the fake authors. “I was like, what are they? This is ridiculous. This person does not exist,” they continued.

“At the bottom [of the page] there would be a photo of a person and some fake description of them like, ‘oh, John lives in Houston, Texas. He loves yard games and hanging out with his dog, Sam.’ Stuff like that,” they continued. “It’s just crazy.”


How talent across Canada can break into tech

Despite layoffs and economic uncertainty, Canada still faces a tech talent shortage. Yet many viable candidates who could help fill the gap often struggle to build the networks and skills necessary to break into the industry.

Speaking with BetaKit, Pablo Listingart, Executive Director of ComIT, explained more about how Team-UP’s programming and structure help people successfully break into tech.


Dell Inks $150 Million Hardware Deal With AI Startup Imbue

Dell Technologies Inc. has landed a $150 million deal to provide computing hardware to artificial intelligence startup Imbue, a win for the technology giant as it looks to grow its footprint in the AI market.

Imbue, which raised $200 million in a recent funding round from firms including Nvidia Corp., is one of a handful of artificial intelligence startups building their own AI foundation models from scratch — an ambitious effort that requires a large volume of computing power.


Getting hybrid work right requires building a long-term plan

The future came early for Canadian businesses, as hybrid work shifted from a COVID-19 emergency response to a permanent reality. Now, some sixty-five percent of Canadian knowledge workers work in a remote or hybrid format.

In a recent BetaKit Live, three experts—Denis Gaudreault, the country manager for Intel Canada, Michael Almeida, a business unit leader at Softchoice, and John Trougakos, a professor at the University of Toronto—all shared their perspectives on how other companies of all sizes can get hybrid work right.


Big Companies Find a Way to Identify A.I. Data They Can Trust

Data is the fuel of artificial intelligence. It is also a bottleneck for big businesses, because they are reluctant to fully embrace the technology without knowing more about the data used to build A.I. programs.

Now, a consortium of companies has developed standards for describing the origin, history and legal rights to data. The standards are essentially a labeling system for where, when and how data was collected and generated, as well as its intended use and restrictions.


Vancouver, Toronto-Waterloo, Calgary among the top 50 global cleantech ecosystems

Startup Genome released its climate tech-focused startup ecosystem report Thursday, which ranks global ecosystems based on the current state of startup activity in cleantech and the “blue economy,” which the report defines as technologies specific to ocean innovation.

The report ranked Atlantic Canada eighth in the top blue economy startup ecosystem rankings, and an impressive third-place in the top five blue economy startup ecosystems in North America.

As for Startup Genome’s cleantech ecosystem rankings, three Canadian regions cracked the top 50 list: Vancouver, Toronto-Waterloo, and Calgary.


Dataminr, the $4B big data startup, is laying off 20% of staff today, or 150 people, as it preps to double down on AI

It’s a tough day for Dataminr, the New York-based big data unicorn last valued at $4.1 billion. TechCrunch has learned that the company — which uses AI and big data algorithms to provide predictive insights about news and other global events, is laying off about 20% of staff today, or around 150 people.

It cites the impact of the economic environment, operational efficiencies, and “the recent rapid advancements of our AI platform,” according to a memo from founder and CEO Ted Bailey.


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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