Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – November 12th
Nvidia to start producing new AI chips for China to avoid US restrictions – 11/11
According to the reports by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, Nvidia is developing new AI chips that would allow the company to continue exporting to China and avoid the latest U. S. restrictions.
The government updated the restrictions that limit the computing power of chips that companies can export to the Chinese market. The government implemented restrictions last year that precluded Nvidia from exporting certain types of A100 and H100 chips to the Chinese market. But the latest round of restrictions means Nvidia cannot export A800, H800 chips, and RTX 4090 consumer GPU.
The company started developing new chips for the Chinese market specifically. According to the specifications, the new chips are the L20, the L2, and the HGX H20. HGX H20 is the most powerful model. However, none of these models go beyond the computing power established by the new restrictions. In practice, it means developers would require more chips than they would need if they had access to more powerful models.
Several Chinese companies already started designing semiconductor chips in case they cannot import the chips they need from the United States and other countries.
ChatGPT experiencing outages due to a targeted attack – 11/9
According to the OpenAI spokesperson, ChatGPT experienced outages this week caused by a targeted attack.
On Wednesday, OpenAI shared: “We are dealing with periodic outages due to an abnormal traffic pattern reflective of a DDoS attack… We are continuing work to mitigate this.” The company claims no customer information was compromised. The attack started on Wednesday morning. The outage impacted the company’s tools and services including API used by over two million developers. On Thursday, some users still received error messages.
The attack came just after OpenAI hosted its first in-person event on Monday. At the event, the company announced it surpassed 100 million weekly users. Likewise, Mira Murati (OpenAI’s Chief Technology Officer) shared with the media that over 92% of Fortune 500 companies use ChatGPT (an increase from 80% in August last year).
Apple to pay $25 million in a discrimination settlement – 11/9
On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Apple has to pay $25 million in civil penalties and back pay because of its hiring practices under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The Department of Justice accused Apple of not advertising the positions it needed to fill via a federal “Permanent Labor Certification Program” (PERM). The program allows companies to hire workers who can become permanent U. S. residents after they fulfill several requirements. According to the DOJ, Apple did not advertise the positions on its external website and created additional requirements, like mailing paper applications. That way, the company favored current employees with temporary visas who wanted to become permanent employees.
The settlement agreement states: “These less effective recruitment procedures deterred U. S. applicants from applying and nearly always resulted in zero or very few mailed applications that Apple considered for PERM-related job positions, which allowed Apple to fill the positions with temporary visa holders.”
Meanwhile, Apple contested the claims and said it followed the regulations. Any failures to follow regulations were a result of error rather than discrimination. The company spokesperson stated: “Apple proudly employs more than 90,000 people in the United States and continues to invest nationwide, creating millions of jobs. When we realized we had unintentionally not been following the DOJ standard, we agreed to a settlement addressing their concerns.”
According to the settlement, Apple agreed to create a $18.25 million fund to compensate eligible victims of discrimination. Likewise, the company has to pay $6.57 million in civil penalties.
New report reveals above-average injury rates at SpaceX – 11/11
A report published by Reuters into unsafe working conditions at SpaceX revealed above-average injury rates. The investigation uncovered over 600 work-related injuries going back to 2014. These incidents have not been previously publicly reported.
The industry average is .8 injuries or illnesses per 100 workers. However, SpaceX has a much higher average. According to Reuters, at the company’s McGregor, Texas facility (where SpaceX conducts its rocket tests), the injury rate is 2.7. At the Brownsville, Texas, location the injury rate was 4.8 in 2022.
Workers suffered injuries that included head wounds, electric shocks, broken bones, and burns. One workplace injury blinded the employee from the Brownsville facility. Furthermore, another employee has been in a coma since 2022. In 2014, one employee (Lonnie LeBlanc) died when the wind knocked him over an improperly loaded truck.
Employees who spoke to Reuters allege Elon Musk is the reason for the work-related injuries. He is notorious for his aggressive deadlines and dislike for bureaucracy. It means SpaceX ignores work safety protocols. Despite serious safety issues, SpaceX only paid minor fines. Following the death of Lonnie LeBlanc, the company only paid $7,000 in a settlement with OSHA. Furthermore, former and current employees claim the company failed to report injury data to industry regulators during the majority of its history.