Hillicon Valley — Google unveils ChatGPT rival 

Google unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that is seemingly a rival product to the increasingly popular ChatGPT feature. According to Google’s CEO, more AI tools from the search giant are on the horizon.  

Meanwhile, we’ll dive into how TikTok is facing increasing criticism from both Republican and Democrat lawmakers as they seek to ban the app, citing national security and privacy concerns.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare

Google launches AI tool Bard

Google on Monday unveiled a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Bard, its rival product to the increasingly popular ChatGPT tool.  

With Bard, individuals can “simplify complex topics” by using the AI tool to get highly detailed responses to queries. For example, a user can ask Bard to explain discoveries from a NASA telescope to a 9-year-old, according to Google’s blog post.  

The release of Bard comes after competitor Microsoft announced a multibillion-dollar investment  into OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool. 

  • The feature will be opened up to a group of “trusted testers” and made “more widely available” to the public “in the coming weeks,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai  said in the blog post.  
  • The tech giant is looking to introduce more AI-powered tools across its search function, in addition to Bard, which is powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications, or LaMDA. 

Read more here.  

Bipartisan lawmakers push for TikTok ban 

Anti-TikTok pressure is mounting in Congress from both sides of the aisle, with lawmakers proposing legal measures to ban the popular video sharing app from use in the U.S. to requests for dominant app stores to drop it.  

  • The push is largely based on concerns that the app, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, poses national security and privacy risks based on the data TikTok is able to collect on users’ activity on their devices both on and off the app. 
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) introduced a bill  last week that would ban TikTok in the U.S. It is the first of its kind to be introduced this Congress, following a similar proposal  led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last year. 

What are lawmakers saying? 

“The big problem with TikTok is that it is a backdoor for the Chinese Communist Party into the personal data and the personal lives of every American who uses it, that includes especially our kids,” Hawley told The Hill. 

Earlier this week, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) asked the chief executive officers of Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores , warning its “vast influence and aggressive data collection pose a specific threat.” Spokespeople for Apple and Google did not respond to requests for comment.  

  • Bennet said that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is compelled by Chinese law to comply with requests from the government for access to data from such apps, which could potentially allow the Chinese government to access and collect information on American citizens.   
  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) raised similar issues as Hawley about TikTok’s data collection and the possibility of TikTok being used as a potential propaganda tool. Warner said the app’s data collection is not “dissimilar to some of the collection of American companies,” but his concerns are amplified by supposed ties to China.  

Read more here .

TEXAS PROPOSES STATEWIDE TIKTOK BAN

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) unveiled Monday a statewide plan  to ban TikTok from state government-issued devices and networks, following a December order to crack down on the use of the popular social media app. 

“The security risks associated with the use of TikTok on devices used to conduct the important business of our state must not be underestimated or ignored,” Abbott said in a statement. 

“Owned by a Chinese company that employs Chinese Communist Party members, TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity,” he added. 

The statewide plan would prevent the download or use of TikTok and other prohibited technologies on state-issued devices, including cellphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers. 

Read more here .

SCHUMER PRESSED ON ANTITRUST BILLS

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is facing renewed pressure from advocacy groups to prioritize antitrust bills targeting tech giants this Congress. 

More than 20 organizations led by Demand Progress, an advocacy group aimed at advancing competition in the tech sector, sent a letter to Schumer on Monday pressing him to prioritize two key antitrust bills. 

Both measures passed the House and Senate Judiciary committees with bipartisan support but did not become law. 

The proposals target the nation’s four largest tech companies, Meta, Apple, Alphabet and Amazon. They faced fierce pushback from the companies and industry groups that represent the companies, which spent millions of dollars  to oppose the bills. 

The industry also fought the proposals with aggressive advertisement campaigns arguing the proposals would dismantle services consumers enjoy and lead to security concerns. 

Read more here

DELL CUTS MORE THAN 6,000 JOBS

Dell Technologies is the latest technology company to announce job cuts , saying Monday that it will be cutting about 5 percent of its workforce, or about 6,600 jobs. 

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing , Dell will cut 5 percent of its global workforce to respond to a “challenging global economic environment.”  

Co-Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke said in an email to employees that the company is facing market conditions that “continue to erode with an uncertain future,” which will require restructuring the organization and letting some employees go. 

Dell is the latest company in the technologies industry to announce layoffs. PayPal  and Workday  also announced rounds of job cuts last week, eliminating 7 percent and 3 percent of their workforces, respectively. 

Read more here

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Will the NASA-DARPA nuclear engine test cause environmental protests?  

Notable links from around the web: 

Biden’s State of the Union address to take aim at Silicon Valley (The Washington Post / Cat Zakrzewski and Tyler Pager) 

For Better and for Worse, Elon Musk Is His Own Spokesman (The New York Times / Jacob Bernstein)  

ONE MORE THING

Greene calls probe into Chinese balloons

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Monday called for a probe into why former President Trump was apparently not informed of previous Chinese surveillance balloons that Biden officials are saying crossed over the U.S. at least three times during the previous administration. 

“If it’s true the Pentagon purposely did NOT tell President Trump of Chinese Spy Balloons during his administration then we had a serious breach in command during the Trump admin,” Greene said on Twitter. 

“The POTUS is the Commander in Chief. We must investigate and hold accountable those who broke rank,” the longtime Trump ally said.  

President Biden ordered the U.S. military on Saturday to shoot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that had spent days floating over the country in what defense officials later said was a clear effort to spy on sensitive sites.  

A Pentagon official revealed  on Sunday that similar aircraft had been spotted at least three additional times under Trump , but the former president swiftly denied  that balloons had entered U.S. airspace on his watch. 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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