A|I: The AI Times – This Canadian AI startup will collab with semiconductor giant Arm

Plus: There's more in #Budget2024 beyond AI.

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Untether AI to collaborate with semiconductor giant Arm on smart vehicle solutions

Toronto-based artificial intelligence semiconductor startup Untether AI has announced a partnership with Arm that will see the two implement their semiconductor technology into software-defined vehicle solutions.

By partnering with Arm, a Softbank-backed company, Untether has connected with arguably one of the top players in the semiconductor space. Since Arm’s September IPO valued the company at $54 billion USD, its market cap has since eclipsed $125 billion USD, according to Google Finance.


Mistral, an OpenAI Rival in Europe, in Talks to Raise Capital at a $5 Billion Valuation

Mistral, a Paris-based startup developing artificial intelligence that is open source, has been speaking to investors about raising several hundred million dollars at a valuation of $5 billion, according to a person with direct knowledge. The company, which has just recently begun to generate revenue, in December raised $415 million at a valuation of $2 billion.

The possible back-to-back financing reflects investors’ continued appetite for certain AI startups and the large amount of capital such startups need to compete with Google, OpenAI, and other leaders in the field.

(The Information)

Vidyard rolls out AI avatars after securing funding from EDC and existing backers

To fuel its product and artificial intelligence development efforts, last summer, Kitchener-Waterloo-based Vidyard secured about $21 million CAD ($15 million USD) in financing led by Export Development Canada.

Vidyard has announced its entry into the AI avatar market, introducing an avatars feature to its Messages platform. The company claims that AI avatars will enable customers to quickly make high-quality, short-form videos starring AI-generated versions of themselves that look and sound like them.


Google consolidates its DeepMind and Research teams amid AI push

Alphabet-owned Google said on Thursday it would consolidate teams that focus on building artificial intelligence models across its Research and DeepMind divisions in its latest push to develop its AI portfolio.

Google will relocate its Responsible AI teams—which focus on safe AI development—from Research to DeepMind so that they are closer to where AI models are built and scaled, the company said in a blog post.

The move comes amid growing global concerns about AI safety and increasing calls for regulation of the technology.


Contango Digital Assets closes $5 million for “Blockchain x AI” seed fund

Toronto-based venture capital firm Contango Digital Assets has closed the first $5 million of its targeted $10-million Blockchain x AI Seed Fund. Contango says the fund is backed by Dean Skurka, the CEO of one of Canada’s largest crypto companies, WonderFi.

As its name suggests, the Blockchain x AI Seed Fund invests in North American seed-stage companies working at the intersection of blockchain and artificial intelligence.


What’s in #Budget2024 for Canadian tech?

Following the pre-announcement of an AI-boosting $2.4-billion CAD package, the federal government published the rest of its 2024 budget this past week and the reaction from Canadian tech was immediate and loud.

Following calls from Canadian business leaders, Budget 2024 also announced the government’s plan to establish a working group led by former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz aimed at encouraging Canada’s pension funds to make more investments in Canada.

But the biggest reaction came in response to proposed changes to the capital gains tax, which would lift the inclusion rate businesses pay on capital gains from 50 percent to 66.7 percent. Hundreds of Canadian tech leaders signed an open letter calling on Ottawa to claw back the changes, while others said they believe the reaction is a distraction and “hysteria.”

Still haven’t taken a look at #Budget2024?

BetaKit’s roundup has everything you need to know.

Feds appoint “AI doomer” to run AI safety at US institute

The US AI Safety Institute—part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology—has finally announced its leadership team after much speculation.

Appointed as head of AI safety is Paul Christiano, a former OpenAI researcher who pioneered a foundational AI safety technique called reinforcement learning from human feedback, but is also known for predicting that “There’s a 50 percent chance AI development could end in ‘doom.'” While Christiano’s research background is impressive, some fear that by appointing a so-called “AI doomer,” NIST may be risking encouraging non-scientific thinking that many critics view as sheer speculation.


As tech talent crunch persists, Indeed’s Iain Hamilton on how companies can fill seats faster

Recent data from Indeed found that as of the end of January, 27 percent of tech jobs in Canada remained open for 60 days or more.

To Indeed’s VP of software engineering Iain Hamilton, it’s an intriguing time in the tech industry.

Despite a less favourable economy, the thirst for tech talent hasn’t waned. In fact, Hamilton said the economic landscape has resulted in fewer individuals actively seeking new opportunities, leading to a tight talent pool, and challenges for businesses looking to fill roles.


Mark Zuckerberg on Llama 3, Open Sourcing $10b Models, & Caesar Augustus

Does AI feel like any other technology, like the metaverse or social media, or is it bigger?

Mark Zuckerberg joined the Dwarkesh Podcast on Thursday, where he discussed Meta’s Llama 3, open sourcing towards artificial general intelligence, and bottlenecks facing AI development.

(Dwarkesh Podcast)

What Alberta Innovates learned from sending 50 local startups to SXSW

Last month, Alberta Innovates sent a delegation of 50 local tech startups to the conference. This wasn’t the delegation’s inaugural trip; an initial foray in 2023 catalyzed millions of dollars in deals for the startups involved.

According to Tim Murphy, vice-president of the health division at Alberta Innovates, the Crown corporation had a clear objective going into this year’s conference.

Murphy, who joined the Alberta delegation this year, sat down with BetaKit to talk about the organization’s strategy for the 2024 SXSW delegation, how the experience went, and the impact it’s hoped to create for the province’s tech sector.


Gamers Are Renting Their Idle GPUs to Generate AI Porn

Salad, a company that pays gamers in Fortnite skins and Roblox gift cards to rent their idle GPUs remotely to generative AI companies, is using those idle computers to create AI-generated porn.

Salad doesn’t hide the fact that it’s possible that participating users may end up generating AI porn with their idle machines, and gives them the choice to opt-out from producing such content. When [a 404 Media reporter] signed up for the service, by default it opted my computer in for jobs that produce AI-generated adult content.

(404 Media)

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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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