AI News

Coffee Briefing Jan. 23 – FedDev Ontario supports ventureLAB; Telus’s new plan for low-income seniors; Intuit says Canadians do not want financial advisors to be replaced by AI; and more

Coffee Briefings are timely deliveries of the latest ITWC headlines, interviews, and podcasts. Today’s Coffee Briefing is delivered by IT World Canada’s editorial team! 

Missed the last Coffee Briefing? We’ve got you covered.

FedDev Ontario invests $4.5 million in ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative


The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) has announced an investment of C$4.5 million in Markham-based incubator ventureLAB.

The investment is targeted towards Hardware Catalyst Initiative, ventureLAB’s accelerator program tasked with helping Canadian hardware and semiconductor-focused companies grow and scale up to become globally competitive.

“This new investment in our Hardware Catalyst Initiative by FedDev Ontario will have a tremendous impact on our ability to continue to grow and scale these great hardtech companies from Canada, while also building a stronger knowledge-based economy,” said Hugh Chow, chief executive officer, ventureLAB.

The investment adds to the C$10.7 million that FedDev has provided in funding for the growth and expansion of HCI over the past years.

The expansion is expected to support 30 more companies, create and maintain over 170 high-quality jobs, and lead to the commercialization of 25 new products.

Cisco and OECD partner to build a knowledge hub on responsible use of technology


Cisco and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE)  have teamed up to build a knowledge hub that will gather people’s insights on digital well-being, as well as on the digital divide.

The partnership builds on existing research into digital well-being. It acknowledges that while digital technologies offer benefits like improved access to education and health information, they also pose mental health risks and safety concerns.

Cisco and the OECD will continue to conduct research aimed at helping users make informed decisions, empower individuals to navigate the digital landscape responsibly, and to promote a healthy relationship with emerging technology.   

“While we continue to strive for full digital inclusion around the world, we cannot do so at any cost. It is our responsibility to keep well-being top of mind, and this partnership will help us connect with people around the world to learn about their experiences with digital technology—how it influences their social connections, their jobs and work-life balance, and their physical and mental health. Co-building a model and better understanding the role technology plays in everyday life is fundamental to our work at Cisco, and to pursuing our purpose to power an inclusive future for all,” said Fran Katsoudas, executive vice president and chief people, policy and purpose officer, Cisco.

The partnership will launch its ‘Digital Well-being Hub’ in the second half of 2024.

Governments of Canada and British Columbia to bring high speed internet to rural communities in BC

The governments of Canada and British Columbia (BC) have jointly invested C$600,000 in two projects to bring high-speed internet access to more than 140 households in the communities of sḵelhp (formerly Saltery Bay) and Lund, British Columbia.

BC-based telecommunications company CityWest will be undertaking the projects.

“CityWest specializes in serving rural and remote communities, and we’re thrilled to bring improved internet services to even more communities in the qathet Regional District,” said Stefan Woloszyn, chief executive, CityWest. “These last-mile projects are crucial to ensure that all British Columbians have access to internet connectivity, allowing them to participate in the digital world.”

This funding is part of a 2022 agreement between the governments of Canada and BC to invest up to C$830 million to connect households in all remaining rural, remote and Indigenous communities throughout the province.

Bell Let’s Talk announces $1 million for mental health programs


Bell’s mental health campaign, Bell Let’s Talk has  announced C$1,000,000 in new grants from the Bell Let’s Talk Diversity Fund to support 10 additional organizations working to reduce the stigma of mental illness and increase access to mental health programs for members of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities in Canada.

“We are excited to announce our latest Bell Let’s Talk Diversity Fund recipients,” said Mary Deacon, chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “These exceptional organizations are providing essential support and services in many diverse communities across Canada. The grants will help the organizations make a difference and create real change for people struggling with mental health issues.”

Since the launch of the fund in 2020, 49 organizations from across the country have received grants.

Telus expands Telus’s Mobility for Good program for low-income seniors


Telus has launched a new rate plan, C$35/month with 10GB of data, for youth aging out of care, low-income seniors, and government-assisted refugees, as part of the Mobility for Good program.

The program is currently supporting more than 21,000 low-income seniors, youth aging out of care, and government-assisted refugees across Canada.

The new plan joins the existing $25/3GB plan offering in the Mobility for Good program.

Both plans also come with data at 5G+ speeds, shareable data, unlimited Canada-wide talk, and unlimited data at reduced speeds per month with no contract, on bring your own device.

Canadians want their financial advisors augmented and not replaced by generative AI: Intuit


Nearly 70 per cent of Canadians want future financial tools to be a hybrid of human financial advisors and generative AI, a recent survey from Intuit revealed.

The human element is critical, as 53 per cent want financial advisors to be the main resource, with generative AI in a complementary role. And only seven per cent want financial advisors to be replaced by generative AI and other AI products.

One possible explanation is the uncertainties associated with new technologies. Seventy-two per cent, in fact, lack basic knowledge about how their data is gathered and used.

The key, Intuit said, is pairing GenAI tools with human advice and guidance.

However, the financial software firm also zeroed in on the importance of improving data education to increase the access and potential impact of purpose-built tools for managing common challenges.

Over 1500 Canadians aged 18 years and older were surveyed from July 14, 2023, to November 14, 2023 for this report.

More to explore

Responding to challenges of new tech, children’s rights among federal privacy czar’s priorities

Promoting Canadians’ fundamental right to privacy, addressing the privacy impacts of new technologies like artificial intelligence, and championing children’s privacy rights will be the priorities of the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) for the next three years.

SIM card swap led to takeover of SEC’s X account

The hacker who took over the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s account on the X social media platform this month did it by fooling a cellphone carrier into giving it control over an employee’s cellphone in a SIM card swap.

Ericsson and Telus partner to launch 5G standalone network across Canada

Ericsson has partnered with Telus to launch and optimize its 5G standalone (5G SA) network from coast-to-coast.

Most enterprises still at beginning of their AI journeys: Report

Talk about the endless possibilities and impact of artificial intelligence is rampant, yet a new report by Everest Group shows that the majority of enterprises (83 per cent) are currently only testing the capabilities of AI through pilot programs, or have adopted generative AI for one or more production-grade use cases.

Drilling down into the impact AI is having on data centres, climate change

Lost in all of the hype around how artificial intelligence (AI) advances are going to change everything from how people work to how they function is just how much electrical power it will take to make this happen, and, equally important, what impact that will have in addressing  legally binding sustainability mandates such as the Paris Agreement.

Samsung launches AI-powered Galaxy S24 series

For the first half hour of Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event Wednesday, one could be forgiven for thinking that it was a software launch, as speaker after speaker touted Galaxy AI, the company’s new set of artificial intelligence (AI) tools driving the Galaxy S24 series of devices.

Data Privacy Week: Get ready for tougher regulation

In 2023, regulators around the world stiffened or vowed to tighten their data privacy and cybersecurity laws. Expect more of that in 2024.

Channel Bytes January 19, 2024 – Are you one of Canada’s Top 100 solution providers; AML firm announces channel program; Toad Data Studio is now GA; and more

Staying informed is a constant challenge. There’s so much to do, and so little time. But we have you covered. Grab a coffee and take five while you nibble on these tidbits.

Listen to the latest episode of Hashtag Trending

Hashtag Trending Jan. 23- Microsoft accelerates efforts to power data centres with nuclear energy; Is RTO really better for productivity?; Deepfakes hit the New Hampshire primary

Listen to the latest episode of Cybersecurity Today

Cyber Security Today, Jan. 22, 2024 – the LockBit ransomware gang hits the Subway fast food chain, and this is the start of Data Privacy Week


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