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IBM’s data analytics and sensors combined with Bell’s broadband network will be used to detect leaking water pipes and flooding, plus track energy consumption at city properties and municipal equipment, among other things. The test will run for six months. (Canadian Press)

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Talking point: Mayor Frank Scarpitti said restricting the project to municipal assets will help it avoid the privacy and data ownership controversies that the Sidewalk Toronto project has faced. Markham already has a number of tech tenants, including IBM’s Canadian headquarters, which contains local incubator ventureLab. The city has a long history with the sector, and hosts the offices of multinationals like AMD, Lenovo and Toshiba. But, as The Logic highlighted in a December 2018 briefing, the growth in the region’s technology employment has come from more software jobs in downtown Toronto, while the predominantly hardware-focused work in surrounding cities like Markham and Mississauga has declined.

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The new laws bar city bureaus from using the technology and prohibit private companies from employing it in public spaces. The city cited the risk of “biases against Black people, women, and older people.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the toughest regulation of facial recognition in the U.S. to date. While Oakland, San Francisco and Summerville, Mass. have banned local governments from using the technology, Portland is the first to crack down on its use by businesses. The rule could present challenges for tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Amazon that develop and license algorithms for facial recognition—an increasingly common technology in spaces like retail stores, stadiums and schools. Amazon has spent at least US$24,000 lobbying the City of Portland to abandon its plans to implement the laws, or at least soften them. In Canada, facial recognition technology is becoming more common in public spaces as well as in law enforcement, according to the Citizen Lab, a research group. While still limited compared to the U.S., the group has called for a ban on the technology until a national judicial inquiry is complete.

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The Toronto-based startup released its cloud service to the public on Wednesday and announced plans to raise US$100 million next year to develop a machine using subatomic particles that can far outperform existing supercomputers. (The Logic, The Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: The four-year-old company is positioning itself to compete with industry leaders like Google, Microsoft and IBM. The technology promises to improve drug discovery and financial risk modelling, among other applications, by performing ultra-fast calculations. In tests, Google’s pre-market quantum computer performed a calculation in a few minutes that would take a standard supercomputer 10,000 years to complete. The competitive sector is still young, and supercomputers still outperform the newer machines. But Xanadu said its advantage lies in not having to cool parts of its equipment to extremely low temperatures—as is typically required—for its technology to produce quantum effects, making it quicker and cheaper to develop.

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The lawsuit claims Apple “imposes unreasonable and unlawful restraints” on producers, who are forced to go through Apple’s store should they want to reach the billion-plus Apple mobile-device users. Meanwhile, Google has made itself “an unavoidable middleman” that uses its “monopoly power to impose a tax,” reads Epic’s suit against the search engine giant. Epic is not seeking monetary compensation in either case. Both Apple and Google said they wanted to work with Epic to get the game back on their respective stores. (The Logic, The Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: The lawsuits, which number a combined 122 pages, are clearly part of a planned campaign against the two internet giants. On Thursday, the company allowed users to buy its V-Bucks currency directly from it, circumventing Apple and Google’s payment systems—and their 15 to 30 per cent take. Epic also produced a cheeky knockoff of Apple’s famed 1984 commercial, with Apple in the role of the evil IBM overlord and Fortnite characters playing the righteous Apple rebels of yore.

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The biotech startup secured its Series B round, which was led by Drive Capital with participation from Chiesi Farmaceutici, GreenSky Capital and members of Cyclica’s management team. (VentureBeat)

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Talking point: Cyclica’s drug-discovery platform leverages artificial intelligence in the biophysics space. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a new drug takes an average of 12 to 15 years and over US$2.6 billion dollars to develop—a process Cyclica hopes to decentralize by partnering with other companies and research institutions. With the support of the Ontario Centres of Excellence and IBM, the company has recently harnessed the power of supercomputers to map out a database that will help researchers identify genetic variants. The new funds will be used to forge new partnerships as well as expand its application within the pharma industry and adjacent sectors, such as agro-chemicals.