AI class is in session

Students who are sick of not being allowed to use AI to finish their work might want to transfer to a business school.

Explain It Like I'm Five: Made-for-advertising websites

Made-for-advertising (MFA) sites are crammed with as many ads as possible, drawing in visitors with spammy clickbait, fake news, and conspiracy content.

Quantum computers are getting better at their jobs

There’s been a big leap forward in making a potentially revolutionary technology less accident-prone.

The construction sector is building itself up

With Canada rushing to build housing, it should be no surprise that some entrepreneurial minds feel like it’s a business worth getting into. 

Driving the news: The federal government made a wave of announcements this week for housing initiatives that will feature in the 2024-25 budget. They include a $6 billion pledge for housing construction and infrastructure, and a $1.5 billion fund to protect existing rental units.

Dollarama can’t stop, won’t stop, making money

Despite consumer outrage over the fact some things cost five bucks there these days — a miscarriage of retail justice if there ever was one — shoppers keep going back to Dollarama.

What happened: The bargain seller reported a 24% jump in profits for the final quarter of 2023 alongside an 8.7% rise in comparable store sales (which tracks growth without counting new locations) as Canadian shoppers increased their number of dollar store trips.  

The solar eclipse economy is booming

Total Solar Eclipse 2024: A once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness the celestial event, and a great excuse to stick an Oreo on a doughnut and charge extra for it.

Driving the news: On Monday, the sun will disappear behind the moon for roughly four minutes, spanning parts of Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. People are excited, and the eclipse business is booming. 

Droughts could dry up oil and gas production

As Canadian oil and gas producers look to notch record outputs this year, severe droughts in Western Canada could rain on their parade — not literally, given, ya know, the droughts.

Driving the news: A new Deloitte report warns that oil and gas producers could have trouble sourcing water for their operations, as some of Canada’s driest places — northwest Alberta and northeast B.C. — just so happen to be the centre of oil and gas country.

The overhype of walkout check-outs

In the era of AI, remember this maxim, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

What happened: Amazon is walking back its “Just Walk Out” check-out system at its grocery stores. It lets users scan their credit cards as they enter, grab the items they want, and simply walk out of the store without having to (perish the thought) interact with a cashier.

Disney wins its boardroom battle

Disney can return to making magic after showing its critics that Bob Iger is here to stay.  

What happened: One of the world’s most important entertainment companies and its CEO Bob Iger prevailed in a boardroom battle against the activist investor Nelson Peltz, marking the end of a dramatic (and expensive) campaign to secure the confidence of shareholders. 

The XZ backdoor could have been really bad

While you were enjoying the long weekend, engineers and developers were fixing what could have been one of the biggest cybersecurity incidents of all time.

Memories could be locked away in DNA

The problem: No one is exactly sure how memories are formed. Scientists know certain parts of the brain play an important role, as do electrical signals passing between neurons, but precisely how stuff gets encoded in your mind remains a minor mystery.

Dr. Chatbot is taking patients

Think about the last time you had ChatGPT write something for you and consider this: Would you be comfortable with that bot giving a teen mental health advice?

Med school admissions get a makeover

For many students, getting into med school feels like winning the lottery. And soon, for some of them, it will literally be like winning the lottery. 

What happened: Queen’s University will introduce a unique lottery system this fall as part of its medical school application process as it looks to spur admissions for students from diverse backgrounds. The lottery will be used to choose who reaches the first interview stage. 

Bird flu makes its way to mammals

Birds have already given us food, inspiration for band names, and countless sports mascots. Unfortunately, they might also be giving us a nasty virus.

Driving the news: A recent outbreak of bird flu in U.S. cattle has now spread to a human, with at least one person in Texas testing positive for the virus. It’s the latest worrying development in an outbreak that has infected millions of animals around the world.

Are we seeing an EV slowdown, or just a Tesla slowdown?

These are just a choice selection of analysts’ reactions to Tesla’s quarterly sales report. 

What happened: Like a deadbeat dad missing his child’s softball game, Tesla’s sales numbers were a massive disappointment. Despite technically regaining its title of top EV seller, the company seriously missed Wall Street estimates, sparking fears over its growth. 

AI finds cancers that doctors missed

When it comes to medical diagnoses, it’s always good to get a second opinion. Getting a third from an artificially intelligent healthcare tool might not be a bad idea, either.

What happened: An AI tool called Mia caught multiple small cancers missed by doctors in a test of 10,000 women’s mammograms performed by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

RBC puts the finishing touches on HSBC takeover

If you spotted an RBC on your commute this morning you could have sworn was an HSBC, don’t worry, you’re not going crazy… 

Driving the news: We hope you’ve said your final goodbyes to HSBC’s Canadian arm, since this week you’ll find that dozens of HSBC branches transformed into RBCs overnight, marking the final stages of the 2022 $13.5 billion acquisition by the country’s largest bank. 

Explain It Like I'm Five: Zero-day vulnerabilities

What is a zero-day vulnerability?

Any security flaw or vulnerability in a computer system that its owners or developers don’t know about.

Benchmarks are the latest frontier of AI hype

We’re sorry to report that ~vibes~ might be the only way to judge AI models.

Mark W. Podlasly on Indigenous stakes in Canadian projects

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Mark W. Podlasly, a member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation and the chief sustainability officer for the First Nations Major Projects Coalition to talk about how Indigenous communities across the country are taking ownership stakes in major clean energy, resource development, and infrastructure projects.