A|I: The AI Times – The feds have used AI in nearly 300 projects

Canadian flag over Parliament Hill
Plus: OpenAI prepares to fight for its life.

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Ottawa has used AI in nearly 300 projects and initiatives: research

Canada’s federal government has used artificial intelligence in nearly 300 projects and initiatives, new research has found — including to help predict the outcome of tax cases, sort temporary visa applications and promote diversity in hiring.

Joanna Redden, an associate professor at Western University, pieced together the database using news reports, documents tabled in Parliament and access-to-information requests.

“There needs to be far more public debate about what kinds of systems should be in use, and there needs to be more public information available about how these systems are being used,” Redden said in an interview.

(Global News)

Pinterest is on a Toronto hiring spree to scoop up AI talent

Pinterest is looking to expand its business in Canada and capitalize on the country’s artificial intelligence and machine learning talent as it sets out on a strategic plan to make the platform more of a shopping destination, said chief technology officer Jeremy King. “You’ve got such great machine learning talent in Toronto,” King said in an interview with BetaKit. “I can’t express enough that every single team has machine learning engineers, so we need as many machine learning engineers as you can get.”

The San-Francisco-based company is hiring 40 engineering roles to add to its existing roster of 80 at its Toronto office—one of its key engineering hubs, King said—and aims to fill the positions by the end of the year.


OpenAI prepares to fight for its life as legal troubles mount

Under siege, OpenAI is turning to some of the world’s top legal and political human minds. It has hired about two dozen in-house lawyers since March 2023 to work on issues including copyright, according to a Washington Post analysis of LinkedIn. The company has posted a job for an antitrust lawyer — with a salary of up to $300,000 — to handle the increasing scrutiny in the United States and Europe of its partnership with Microsoft. It has also retained some of the top U.S. law firms, including Cooley and Morrison Foerster, to represent it in key cases.

The rapid expansion underscores a new reality: OpenAI is at war.

(The Washington Post)

Hootsuite to acquire social media analytics company Talkwalker

Hootsuite is set to acquire Luxembourg-based artificial intelligence consumer intelligence and social listening company Talkwalker for an undisclosed amount.

Hootsuite said the deal is aimed at helping its customers get more out of their social media relationships and will fuel the Vancouver tech company’s shift in focus from social media management to data-driven, intelligent decision making. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024.


Humane AI Pin review: not even close

Humane has spent the last year making the case that the AI Pin is the beginning of a post-smartphone future in which we spend less time with our heads and minds buried in the screens of our phones and more time back in the real world.

The AI Pin is an interesting idea that is so thoroughly unfinished and so totally broken in so many unacceptable ways that I can’t think of anyone to whom I’d recommend spending the $699 for the device and the $24 monthly subscription.

(The Verge)

Riskthinking.AI selected by OSFI to provide financial institutions with climate risk data

Toronto-based Riskthinking.AI has been chosen by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to provide climate risk data for financial institutions that are required to complete the 2024 Standardized Climate Scenario Exercise.

“Financial institutions are exposed to the consequences of climate change,” AMF president and CEO Yves Ouellet said in a statement. “The joint exercise we are launching today with our OSFI colleagues will help institutions be better prepared to manage climate change risks. It will also enable us to take the necessary actions to support financial market stability and the protection of Québec consumers.”


Europe’s A.I. ‘Champion’ Sets Sights on Tech Giants in U.S.

Arthur Mensch, tall and lean with a flop of unkempt hair, arrived for a speech last month at a sprawling tech hub in Paris wearing jeans and carrying a bicycle helmet.

Mr. Mensch, 31, is the chief executive and a founder of Mistral, considered by many to be one of the most promising challengers to OpenAI and Google.

A lot is riding on Mr. Mensch, whose company has shot into the spotlight just a year after he founded it in Paris with two college friends. As Europe scrambles to get a foothold in the A.I. revolution, the French government has singled out Mistral as its best hope to create a standard-bearer, and has lobbied European Union policymakers to help ensure the firm’s success.

(The New York Times)

Avidbots launches Kas, a smaller cleaning robot targeting new markets

Kitchener-Waterloo-based startup Avidbots has made a new, smaller, addition to its line of fully autonomous floor scrubbing robots.

Avidbots says the new robot, Kas, is part of the company’s effort to meet the needs of the retail, transportation, healthcare, and education industries, which require a robot that can navigate around people, objects, and tighter spaces.


Google releases Imagen 2, a video clip generator

Google doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to image-generating AI.

In February, the image generator built into Gemini, Google’s AI-powered chatbot, was found to be randomly injecting gender and racial diversity into prompts about people, resulting in images of racially diverse Nazis, among other offensive inaccuracies.

Google pulled the generator, vowing to improve it and eventually re-release it. As we await its return, the company’s launching an enhanced image-generating tool, Imagen 2, inside its Vertex AI developer platform — albeit a tool with a decidedly more enterprise bent.


As crypto regains momentum, Coinbase Canada’s Lucas Matheson zeroes in on the next big goal: adoption

To Lucas Matheson, CEO of Coinbase Canada, it’s now clear that crypto as an asset class is “here to stay,” and the industry is now shifting to a new focus: driving adoption.

“Now is the opportunity for us to shift and help evangelize the opportunity for Canadians to get access to the digital economy,” Matheson told BetaKit.

In a recent fireside discussion with BetaKit interim CEO Satish Kanwar, Matheson explored how Coinbase is looking to catalyze crypto adoption in Canada, the role that the government will play, and Canada’s wider innovation opportunity.


Sapien raises $5M to gamify data labeling for AI models

Sapien AI Corp., a data labeling company, today announced it raised $5 million in a seed funding round to build out its service of providing high-quality annotation and labeling for training artificial intelligence models.

A startup founded in 2023, Sapien helps companies build better AI models by providing a marketplace for premium human-labeled training data. The company states that its platform uses a “gamified” approach to the data labeling experience with blockchain-based rewards, such as crypto tokens, that incentivize human labelers to deliver accurate notations.


Intel says enterprises need choice to scale AI’s potential

Following Intel’s CEO keynote and announcement at the company’s Vision conference of more energy-efficient processing chips and an open AI app ecosystem, Asma Aziz, Canada Marketing Director at Intel, spoke with BetaKit about why the company believes the path to enterprise AI adoption is through open ecosystems rather than walled gardens.


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Feature image courtesy Jason Hafso via Unsplash.

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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