Canada falls far behind on family doctors

We love Canada but must admit that other countries are superior in certain areas—things like better sun, tastier cuisine, and, crucially, better access to family doctors.

Driving the news: Canadian access to family doctors lags well behind that of other OECD countries with public healthcare systems, according to a new University of Toronto study that compared healthcare systems in Denmark, the U.K., Finland, France, Germany and more. 

The beer biz is going flat

Who doesn’t love throwin’ up their feet and crackin’ open an ice-cold beer? 

Turns out, a growing segment of the population.

Driving the news: Alcohol giant Diageo is looking to exit the ice-cold—and not in a good way—beer biz, with plans to divest all of its beer brands except Guinness, per Axios

Sony’s modular PlayStation controller makes gaming more accessible

The problem: Because no one’s accessibility needs are exactly the same, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to make video game consoles accessible to people with disabilities.

The solution: Sony’s Access controller for the PlayStation 5 is a modular device that allows players to arrange and remap the buttons to pick a configuration that works for them. 

An alliance of tech heavyweights pushes for AI to have an open source future

More than 50 organizations have joined together to get the industry on board with open AI (no, not that one).

What happened: Meta and IBM are leading what is called the AI Alliance, a group advocating for an open source approach to developing AI, saying it is the faster way to innovate and identify societal risks.

23andMe is the latest in a year of huge cyberattacks

People are used to getting surprises when they sign up for 23andMe, but “some hackers got their hands on your DNA” usually isn’t among them.

What happened: 23andMe disclosed that an October data breach allowed hackers to steal data from 6.9 million users.

Firefighters ask the feds for more help

After persevering through the most destructive year ever for wildfires in Canada, firefighters are in Ottawa trying to get more assistance before the next wildfire season.  

Driving the news: Over 40 fire chiefs from across the country are meeting with federal officials today to drum up support. One of their main asks is to increase the volunteer firefighter tax credit from $3,000 a year to $10,000 in order to attract more volunteers.

Walmart is all about rom-commerce

The world's largest retailer is banking on a holiday season staple to boost sales: the cheesy holiday rom-com.

Driving the news: Walmart has launched a 23-part shoppable rom-com TV series called Add to Heart (get it, like ‘add to cart’) as part of its push to reach younger consumers. The format allows viewers to buy the clothes, decor, and furniture that is seen on the show.

Low math scores are an unsolved problem

If you’re like us, when you studied math in school, you were constantly thinking ‘wow, this is hard.’ Unfortunately, for kids today, it seems that learning math has gotten even harder.  

Driving the news: Canadian math scores continued a long fall from grace, per the latest results from the OECD’s standardized math test. Between 2003 and 2022, overall scores declined by 35 points, with only 12% of students categorized as “high math achievers.”

Crypto optimism is blooming

As actual winter sets in, “crypto winter” seems like it could be coming to an end.

What happened: A surge has put Bitcoin prices over $56,500, as of the end of the day on Monday. Prices for the cryptocurrency are now up 152% so far this year, returning to price levels seen just before rising inflation led to a sell-off and subsequent crash in April 2022.

Food industry preps for lower appetites

Like a gym bro about to tackle leg day, food companies are all in on protein. 

Driving the news: As weight-loss drugs like Ozempic become more popular, some of the world’s biggest food companies are beginning to steer into the skid with products that can accompany the drugs or, in some cases, replace them, per The Wall Street Journal.

Hitting the gas on methane rules

Yesterday, Canada joined the U.S. in creating strict methane rules to meet climate goals.

What happened: The federal government is planning to roll out new regulations that target methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault saying the controlled release or burning of methane will be almost entirely barred by 2030. 

KISS avatars herald weird new digital age for music industry

If your favourite artist is getting too old to tour, here’s some good news — soon, they could start sending a digital proxy to perform for them. 

What happened: For the finale of its farewell tour in New York, rock band KISS closed out the show with a performance by 3-D digital avatars of themselves.

Carbon removal now critical to hitting climate goals, scientists tell COP28

Most of the world’s countries agreed on a significant new renewable energy push at the UN’s COP28 climate summit over the weekend, but scientists warned that overshooting the 1.5°C threshold — beyond which climate disasters will become more frequent and intense — is now almost “inevitable.”

Jeremie Harris on what’s next for OpenAI

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Jeremie Harris to talk about what happened amid the OpenAI executive shake-up, and what’s next for the industry.

What to do this weekend

Our picks for what to eat, read, watch, and listen to this weekend.

Foreign actors drive the political divide

Foreign bad actors have been studying our culture and have come to the very correct conclusion that nothing divides people more than a spicy Instagram post. 

What happened: Meta has taken down a network of 4,800 fake Facebook and Instagram accounts that were designed to stoke division in the U.S. by spreading political content. 

ChatGPT made a law in Brazil

What if laws were no longer created by our imperfect human minds… and instead, dictated by, also imperfect, but oh-so-efficient, artificial intelligence? 

What happened: A councilman for the Brazillian city of Porto Alegre revealed that a law passed earlier this year, which he proposed, was secretly written entirely by ChatGPT.

Explain It Like I'm Five: Digital advertising and the Online News Act

What is the Online News Act?

A law coming into effect in a few weeks that would see certain tech companies pay Canadian publishers in exchange for having news on their platforms. It is based on Australia’s News Bargaining Code, which mandates that tech platforms enter a negotiation process with outlets to determine that number.

How do the tech companies feel about it?

Meta pulled news from its services so it didn’t have to be bound by the Act’s terms. Google was prepared to do the same, but reached a deal with the government this week.

Why farmers might make it easier to fix your fridge

A big step forward in a legal battle between farmers and the leading equipment manufacturer in North America could also advance right-to-repair rules for everyone.
 
Driving the news: A U.S. judge rejected John Deere’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit from farmers claiming the company is actively restricting services for maintenance and repair.

ChatGPT is a bit of a blabbermouth

Getting math problems wrong isn’t the only way ChatGPT is becoming less smart — apparently, it is pretty easy to trick into sharing its secrets (including, potentially, yours).

What happened: Researchers from Google’s DeepMind and five universities discovered an “attack” prompt for ChatGPT that got the platform to share parts of its training data, revealing personal information of random people and copyrighted material.