Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – August 13th
New executive order limits American companies from investing in the Chinese tech sector – 8/9
On Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order that regulates American investments and expertise in the Chinese high-tech sector. The new measure will be implemented next year. The executive order targets investments in specific artificial intelligence capabilities, semiconductors, quantum computing, and microelectronics. American companies will need to notify the Treasury Department about their investments in companies working on semiconductor technology or artificial intelligence.
In his statement, President Biden expressed concern that some American investments may aid “the development of sensitive technologies and products in countries that develop them to counter United States and allied capabilities.” Further, he added: “I find that countries of concern are engaged in comprehensive, long-term strategies that direct, facilitate, or otherwise support advancements in sensitive technologies and products that are critical to such countries’ military, intelligence, surveillance, or cyber-enabled capabilities.”
The administration tasked Janet Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, with delivering the executive order and coordinating with other government agencies. Yellen will “have to define sensitive technologies and products in these categories for purposes of the prohibition and the notification requirement.”
Liu Pengyu, the spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said of the measure: “The latest investment restrictions will seriously undermine the interests of Chinese and American companies and investors, hinder the normal business cooperation between the two countries, and lower the confidence of the international community in the U.S. business environment.” He called on President Biden to stop his attempts to “halt China’s economic development or contain China.”
Zoom reverts its decision to use customer data to train AI models – 8/11
Zoom reverted its decision after facing a massive uproar over its announcement it plans to use customer data to train AI models. The company faced backlash after users interpreted the terms of service to mean the company would have control and copyright over any customer data and use the content to train AI models.
On Friday, Zoom updated Section 10 of its terms of service that now states the company no longer retains legal rights to use Customer Content to train any AI models.
Smita Hashim, Zoom’s Chief Product Officer, also issued an update to his original blog post to clarify the company’s position: “Following feedback received regarding Zoom’s recently updated terms of service, particularly related to our new generative artificial intelligence features, Zoom has updated our terms of service and the below blog post to make it clear that Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models.”
Sam Bankman-Fried goes back to jail over witness tampering – 8/12
On Friday, Judge Lewis Kaplan revoked Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail and sent him back to jail over alleged witness tampering.
During the ruling, Judge Kaplan stated: “My conclusion is there is probable cause to believe the defendant tried to tamper with witnesses at least twice.” Bankman-Fried was remanded to custody directly from the court hearing. Likewise, Judge Kaplan denied Bankman-Fried’s delayed detention pending an appeal.
The government prosecutors requested detention because Bankman-Fried sent over 100 emails and made over 1000 calls to the members of the press over the last few months. The latest incident involved leaking the private diary of his ex-girlfriend and former chief executive of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison, to the New York Times. The government claims it was an attempt to discredit Ellison, who has been cooperating with the prosecution.
While Manhattan Detention Center is closest to the courthouse, the government asked for Bankman-Fried to be detained at Putnam, New York. There he can have computer and Internet access to prepare his defense.
Amazon sends out warning emails to get the workers back to the office – 8/12
This week Amazon sent out warning emails to their workers who came into the office fewer than three days per week over the last five to eight weeks. The company emailed the employees saying they are “not currently meeting our expectation of joining your colleagues in the office at least three days a week.”
In May, Amazon’s new mandate came into effect and requires office workers to “badge in” at least three days a week. The latest move by the company further escalated tensions with the workers. Some employees questioned whether the latest move signals even stricter requirements down the line.
Amazon admitted it may have sent out some emails by mistake: “While we’ve taken several steps to ensure this email went to the correct recipients, we recognize that there may be instances where we have it wrong.” Likewise, the company said it warned employees who did not abide by the policy even though their office building was ready for the staff’s return.