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  • Writer's pictureDima Krieger

📬 News of the Day for March 20, 2023

In today’s edition:

  • A new report suggests the virus that causes COVID may be linked to raccoon dogs at at the a market in Wuhan, China;

  • OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has admitted that he and his employees are “little bit scared” of artificial intelligence;

  • About 1,400 Google employees have signed a letter to their CEO demanding better treatment of staff during the upcoming layoffs;

  • Hunter Biden has file a countersuit against computer repair person who handled his infamous laptop;

  • and more.

OpenAI CEO says ‘We are a little bit scared’ of artificial intelligence

  • OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently said artificial intelligence could be “greatest technology humanity has yet developed,” but also admitted he and his employees are a “little bit scared” of the technology.

  • Altman said, “I'm particularly worried that these models could be used for large-scale disinformation.”

  • Altman’s statements come as OpenAI released the latest version of its language AI model, GPT-4, just four months after the original version was released.

  • Meanwhile, the rapid popularization of ChatGPT has sent both small and large colleges and universities scrambling to develop guidelines on how to approach it.

  • Part of the issue is that spotting a student’s use of AIin their papers may not be as easy as educators originally thought.

  • For example, a yet-to-be-published Canadian study has found that “two-thirds of professors could not correctly identify texts written by AI.”

Google employees call for better handling of job cuts in open letter to Pichai

  • Nearly 1,400 Google employees have signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichal calling for better treatment of staff during the layoff process.

  • Alphabet announced in January that it would cut about 6% of its workforce following investor pressure to reduce spending in the post-pandemic slump.

  • The letter also called on Alphabet, Google’s parent company, to avoid terminating employees from countries with active conflicts or humanitarian crises.

  • The letter also demanded that laid-off staff be notified in person, allowing them to say goodbye to coworkers.

  • In addition, the employees ask that Google allow employees to finish scheduled leave, such as parental and bereavement leave, before being laid off.

TikTok CEO to testify to Congress; Sen. Warner introduces bill to counter tech companies with ties to foreign gov’ts

  • TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before Congress on Thursday.

  • He is expected to testify that the number of monthly active TikTok users in the U.S. has now reached 150 million.

  • Chew's first appearance before Congress will mark TikTok’s most high-profile showdown with lawmakers to date.

  • TikTok has sought to address the U.S. government's national security concerns by proposing it hire a U.S. company to store Americans’ TikTok data.

  • Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Warner has introduced a new bill, the Restrict Act, that seeks to arm the U.S. with the ability to take quicker action against tech companies who align with foreign governments and spies.

1,000 federal judges seek to remove personal info from internet as threats skyrocket

  • More than 1,000 federal judges have asked the U.S. Courts system for help removing personal information from the internet, so as to protect them from people upset with their rulings.

  • The requests are part of a program that was adopted in response to the 2020 murder of the son of a New Jersey judge's son.

  • There have been numerous incidents in which judges faced danger, including when an armed California man was arrested in June outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whom he allegedly planned to kill over an expected abortion ruling.

New report suggests COVID pandemic's origins linked to raccoon dogs at Wuhan market

  • A new report suggests the virus that causes COVID may be linked to raccoon dogs at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China.

  • According to virologists, the evidence is some of the strongest support yet that the pandemic began when SARS-CoV-2 hopped from animals into humans.

  • Raccoon dogs are known to harbor other viruses that jump from animals to humans.

  • The new analysis builds on extensive previous research that points to the market as the source of the earliest major outbreak of COVID.

  • According to the researchers, the findings do not rule out the possibility that other animals may have been carrying the virus.

Experts conclude genome editing in human embryos still too risky

  • Experts who gathered at the third International Summit on Human Genome Editing have concluded that “heritable human genome editing remains unacceptable at this time.”

  • The experts said the conclusion comes even before scientists grapple with the ethical implications of genome editing.

  • The scientists that researchers cannot currently know how using CRISPR on an embryo could affect offspring.

New NASA mission to explore Saturn moon Titan set to launch in 2027

  • A new NASA mission to Saturn’s giant moon, Titan, is due to launch in 2027.

  • Titan is the only known moon with a thick atmosphere, and its surface is shrouded by a dense orange haze.

  • The Dragonfly mission will carry an instrument called the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS), which will allow scientists back on Earth to remotely study the chemical makeup of Titan’s surface.

SVB Financial Group files For Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

  • SVB Financial Group has filed a Chapter 11 petition, listing assets and liabilities of as much as $10 billion.

  • SVB Financial said it is no longer affiliated with Silicon Valley Bank or its private banking and wealth management unit.

  • The bankruptcy filing also doesn't include SVB Securities and SVB Capital's funds as well as its general partner entities.

  • The company says it is continuing to search for "strategic alternatives" for those divisions.

  • Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for the government to rescind bonuses and stock sale gains for failing banks like SVB.

  • Biden also wants Congress to expand FDIC's ability to fine executives.

Cleanup underway after 400K gallons of radioactive water leaked from nuclear power plant

  • About 400,000 gallons of radioactive water leaked from a nuclear generating plant near Minneapolis this past fall.

  • The leak was detected by routine groundwater monitoring systems and confirmed on Nov. 22, 2022.

  • Xcel Energy said the leaked water contains levels of tritium that are below Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety thresholds.

  • The company said it has been pumping, storing and processing the water for reuse and has recovered about 25%.

Hunter Biden files countersuit against computer repairman over handling of infamous laptop

  • Attorneys for Hunter Biden have filed a countersuit alleging invasion of privacy in response to a defamation lawsuit brought by the computer repair person who handled Biden’s infamous laptop.

  • The repair person, John Paul Mac Isaac, said Hunter Biden left laptop and hard drive at his repair shop in April 2019.

  • Mac Isaac filed defamation lawsuit against Hunter Biden and others in October 2019, which is ongoing.

  • The move is the latest turn in an increasingly offensive legal tack from the younger Biden.

  • Hunter Biden has repeatedly said he is cooperating with federal investigators and remains "100% certain" that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

  • Mac Isaac has claimed that he obtained the data because it was on a laptop Hunter Biden left behind at his store that went unclaimed 90 days after he finished servicing it.

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