How Canadian companies are using AI as ChatGPT marks first anniversary

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When OpenAI released ChatGPT one year ago, it instantly dazzled the world’s tech community and beyond.

The artificial intelligence-based chatbot could turn simple prompts from users into reams of text, including essays and speeches, within moments. Its capabilities already stretched past what experts in the field thought was possible in the near future.

Many, including some of AI’s pioneers, were so taken by how fast the technology had evolved that they started warning it could lead to an existential crisis, if it continued to advance this quickly and without much regulation.

However, Canadian companies have been keen not to ignore a technology that could disrupt their business or deliver efficiency and cost savings.

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Even before ChatGPT, several had worked with large language models (LLMs) – the algorithmic foundation of AI, which takes natural language inputs and predicts the next word based on what it’s already processed. Others saw ChatGPT as a catalyst that convinced them to start dabbling.

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This is a look at what some Canadian companies have used AI and LLMs for:

BlackBerry Ltd.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company that transitioned from a smartphone powerhouse to a cybersecurity firm is now known for its Cylance AI products, which help users detect malware and prevent cyberattacks.

In October, the company also announced a generative AI-based cybersecurity assistant, which predicts customer needs to proactively provide information rather than requiring users to manually ask questions.

Lightspeed Commerce Inc.

The Montreal-based payments software company is using AI to enhance menus and restaurant sales.

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AI helps merchant customers input and update point-of-sale software with new menu items within seconds. It can also translate the menu into other languages and uncover insights into the most popular items or those that encourage repeat dining at restaurants.

Magna International Inc.

The Aurora, Ont.-based auto parts manufacturer has rolled out Mavis, a secure ChatGPT-like environment where staff can explore potential AI use cases, chief digital and information officer Boris Shulkin said in a statement.

Royal Bank of Canada

The Toronto-based bank has a product called Nomi, which uses AI to recommend personalized monthly budgets to customers based on their individual spending habits. Nomi, a play on the term “know me,” detects customers’ top spending categories such as transportation, shopping, dining, entertainment and cash withdrawals, and lets users know if they are over- or under-budget based on their typical patterns.

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The bank also uses an AI-powered trading platform called Aiden, which applies deep reinforcement learning _ an advanced form of machine learning under the AI umbrella _ to equities markets.

Shopify Inc.

The Ottawa-based e-commerce software company recently launched a suite of AI tools that can write product descriptions, email subject lines and headings for online stores.

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The suite includes Sidekick, a chatbot the company’s merchant customers can use to ask questions like, ‘Why have my sales slowed?’ or ‘How can I set up a promotion?’

Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s president and co-founder of Firebelly Tea, has tinkered with such technology, using it to write product descriptions for his business and to summarize long articles to decide whether they’re worth a read later.

Sun Life Financial Inc.

The Toronto-based insurer recently tested an AI-based program to help developers code faster and more accurately and has rolled out a virtual assistant pilot that leverages AI to reduce administrative tasks so staff can focus on more complex work.

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The company will next turn its attention to exploring how AI can help deliver faster service from its call centres.

Telus Corp.

The Vancouver-based telecommunications company has its own set of generative AI tools available for internal experimentation. So far, they’ve been used to speed up the amount of time administrative tasks take, boosting productivity, efficiency and innovation, chief information officer Hesham Fahmy said in an email.

Thomson Reuters Corp.

The Toronto-based technology company created Open Arena, an LLM environment where staff can experiment with generative AI.

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Employees such as customer support agents use the technology to get quick answers from documents or websites, summarize and verify points they will make and start initial drafts of documents, spokesman Kent Carter said in an email.

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