Nigerian Entrepreneur Builds Electric Mini-Buses in Clean Energy Push

Motorist queue to buy fuel in short supply resulting in traffic gridlock following the discovery of contaminated fuel in supply in filling stations across the country, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub on February 9, 2022. (AFP)
Motorist queue to buy fuel in short supply resulting in traffic gridlock following the discovery of contaminated fuel in supply in filling stations across the country, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub on February 9, 2022. (AFP)
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Nigerian Entrepreneur Builds Electric Mini-Buses in Clean Energy Push

Motorist queue to buy fuel in short supply resulting in traffic gridlock following the discovery of contaminated fuel in supply in filling stations across the country, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub on February 9, 2022. (AFP)
Motorist queue to buy fuel in short supply resulting in traffic gridlock following the discovery of contaminated fuel in supply in filling stations across the country, especially in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub on February 9, 2022. (AFP)

Nigerian entrepreneur Mustapha Gajibo has been converting petrol mini-buses into electric vehicles at his workshop, but he is now going a step further to build solar battery-powered buses from scratch in a push to promote clean energy and curb pollution.

Africa's top producer and exporter of crude oil has heavily-subsidized gasoline and a patchy supply of electricity -- a combination that might discourage anyone from investing in electric vehicles.

But Gajibo, a 30-year-old university drop-out and resident of Maiduguri city in Nigeria's northeast, is undaunted. He says rising global oil prices and pollution make electric vehicles a worthwhile alternative in Nigeria.

At his workshop, he has already stripped combustion engines from 10 mini-buses, powering them with solar batteries. The buses, which have been operating for just over a month, cover a distance of 100 km on a single charge, he said.

His most ambitious project is building the buses from scratch. They will be equipped with solar panels and batteries.

"As I am speaking to you now at our workshop, we are building a 12-seater bus which can cover up to 200 kilometers on one charge," Gajibo said.

"Before the end of this month we are going to unveil that bus, which will be the first of its kind in the whole of Nigeria," he said, adding that his workshop had capacity to produce 15 buses a month.

In Nigeria, like most of Africa, electric vehicles have not yet gained traction because they are more expensive and there is little electricity and no infrastructure to charge vehicles.

For now, Gajibo has one charging station powered by solar.

There are other hurdles like foreign currency shortages that make it difficult to import parts. So, he is looking to source them in Nigeria.

"We have been substituting some materials with local materials to bring our costs down and maximize profit," said Gajibo.



IT Minister: Google Agrees to Restore Deleted Indian Apps

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
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IT Minister: Google Agrees to Restore Deleted Indian Apps

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

Alphabet's Google has agreed to restore dozens of Indian apps it deleted from its app store after a dispute over service fee payments, India's Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google on Friday removed from its Play Store many Indian apps, including Matrimony.com's popular Bharat Matrimony and job search app Naukri, saying the companies were not abiding by its in-app payment guidelines.

The removal has sparked criticism from many startups who have for years protested and legally challenged many of the US giant's practices, including its in-app fee. Google says the fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store ecosystem.


Uber Eats Starts Robot Deliveries in Tokyo

Japan changed traffic laws last year to allow robot deliveries. Richard A. Brooks / AFP
Japan changed traffic laws last year to allow robot deliveries. Richard A. Brooks / AFP
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Uber Eats Starts Robot Deliveries in Tokyo

Japan changed traffic laws last year to allow robot deliveries. Richard A. Brooks / AFP
Japan changed traffic laws last year to allow robot deliveries. Richard A. Brooks / AFP

"Caution: robot!" chirps the green self-driving delivery vehicle as it trundles down the street to a pork cutlet restaurant in Tokyo to pick up a meal ordered on Uber Eats.
Starting Wednesday, robot deliveries will be offered in a small area of the city by the US-based food app, which hopes to eventually roll out the service more widely in Japan, said AFP.
The country, facing growing labor shortages, changed traffic laws last year to allow delivery robots on public streets, and other companies including Panasonic are also trialing cute new machines to transport goods.
Uber Eats' boxy robots have square headlights for eyes and three wheels on each side to navigate kerbs as they calculate routes on their own, using sensors to avoid pedestrians and other obstacles.
Moving at up to 5.4 kilometers an hour (3.4 mph) and with flashing lights around the lid, there's a human operator on standby in case of trouble.
Like self-driving delivery services launched by the company in North America, the Tokyo robots will be limited in scope at first, said Uber Eats executive Alvin Oo.
App users must wait outside for the robot to arrive, but one day it could come to their door, he told AFP on Tuesday.
"Going all the way to the office floor, to the exact apartment... could be useful in somewhere like high-rise Tokyo," said Oo, market operations director at Uber Eats Japan.
The service could also one day come to rural areas, where many residents are elderly and drivers are scarce, he added.
Current drivers "do not need to worry", Oo said, because "even in five, 10 years' time, there will always be work for the human delivery partners on the platform".
Uber Eats and similar apps faced strikes last month, and rideshare giant Uber has long been criticized for dodging minimum wage and holiday pay rules by arguing its workers are not employees but independent contractors.
The Uber Eats robots, developed with Mitsubishi Electric and US start-up Cartken, will deliver food from just a few restaurants in the busy Nihonbashi district at first.
Users cannot choose robot delivery, and if it is selected for them they can accept or decline the offer.
At a demonstration on Tuesday, the robot nearly collided with a pedestrian, but also attracted lots of attention.
It's "so cute, so eye-catching", said passer-by Akemi Hayakawa. "I thought it might bump into people's feet, but people give way to it," the 60-year-old said.
"Japan has an aging, dwindling population, with a serious labor shortage. So this is a very good idea for Japan too."


Five Things to Know about the EU's Landmark Digital Act

The European Union in September named six gatekeepers including Apple and Google that must adhere to the rules. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP/File
The European Union in September named six gatekeepers including Apple and Google that must adhere to the rules. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP/File
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Five Things to Know about the EU's Landmark Digital Act

The European Union in September named six gatekeepers including Apple and Google that must adhere to the rules. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP/File
The European Union in September named six gatekeepers including Apple and Google that must adhere to the rules. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP/File

The world's biggest digital companies will be forced to comply from Thursday with strict EU rules that Brussels hopes will make the online market fairer for all.
The European Union in September named six so-called gatekeepers and 22 of their platforms including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn that must adhere to the rules: Google's Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, TikTok parent ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft.
That list is expected to grow after online travel agent Booking and Elon Musk's X notified the European Commission last week that they met the criteria to be considered gatekeepers.
Here are five rules included in the law that will force the titans to change their ways.
Save the start-ups
Big tech companies make billions of dollars in profit every year and some of the windfall goes to scooping up start-ups and innovators.
This rankles authorities, who accuse the giants of using their war chests to snuff out potential rivals before they become a threat.
Under the new rules all buyouts, no matter how small, will have to be notified to the commission, the EU's executive arm based in Brussels.
The commission also acts as the EU's powerful competition regulator.
Messaging unity
After multiple scandals that hit Meta-owned Facebook, many users chose to swap the giant's Messenger or WhatsApp messaging services for alternatives, such as Signal or Telegram.
Yet the market power of Meta's services remains strong, making it difficult for WhatsApp dissenters to keep messaging links with family and friends.
To solve this, the DMA imposes interoperability between messaging apps, all while demanding that communications remain encrypted from user to user.
Fair shopping on Amazon
Amazon is a major shopping platform for thousands of companies to sell their wares online. But suspicions are rife that the online giant abuses its role as a marketplace to better position its own products as a retailer.
The DMA will ban this conflict of interest, as well as demand that the gatekeepers share key information with business customers.
Open the App Store
Around the world, Apple has defended the sanctity of its App Store, barring companies from using their own payment systems or for apps to be downloaded outside the Apple store.
Despite its warnings that opening up iPhones would pose a security threat, the DMA will force Apple to give ground on both those fronts.
Apple has said it will comply, but app developers and some digital companies, including Swedish music streaming giant Spotify, have accused it of acting in bad faith with changes that create prohibitive new costs for rivals.
Failure to comply with the DMA could carry fines in the billions of dollars -- big enough even for the world's biggest company by market value to pay attention.
Repeat offenders would see fines of 20 percent of their global turnover.
Any gatekeeper platform that locks in customers to use pre-installed services, such as a web browser, mapping or weather information, will also face fines.
Ad transparency
Google's search engine and Meta's Facebook and Instagram are the world's biggest online advertisers, a status that critics say the companies abuse by accumulating valuable data about customers and keeping it to themselves.
The DMA will force the tech giants to reveal much more to advertisers and publishers on how their ads work and on an ad's actual effectiveness.
This will make companies less beholden to Google or Facebook for understanding their customers and potentially encourage firms to get their message out in new ways.


China’s Huawei and Amazon in Patent Licensing Agreement 

People visit the Huawei stand at the 2024 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2024. (Reuters)
People visit the Huawei stand at the 2024 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2024. (Reuters)
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China’s Huawei and Amazon in Patent Licensing Agreement 

People visit the Huawei stand at the 2024 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2024. (Reuters)
People visit the Huawei stand at the 2024 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2024. (Reuters)

China's Huawei Technologies and US tech giant Amazon said they had signed a multi-year patent licensing deal that resolves litigation between them.

Most terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Alan Fan, head of Huawei's intellectual property rights department, said the Chinese firm had ended lawsuits brought against Amazon in Germany over patented technology related to wifi and video playback.

The United States has barred Chinese telecom companies from its market citing concerns about data, and designated Huawei and ZTE as threats, requiring US carriers to remove their equipment from US networks.

It has also prevented US firms from supplying Huawei with chips and other components, crippling its smartphone business.

Despite those tensions, the patent license deal shows "American and Chinese companies and companies from other regions are cooperating without limitations in standards and patent licensing," Fan said.

Huawei also announced it had signed a cross-licensing patent deal with domestic smartphone maker Vivo covering communication technologies including 5G. Huawei has similar patent agreements with Chinese smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi and Oppo.


Saudi Arabia: KACST Signs 13 Partnership Agreements to Build Semiconductor System

KACST signed 13 local and international strategic partnerships to build the semiconductor system. SPA
KACST signed 13 local and international strategic partnerships to build the semiconductor system. SPA
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Saudi Arabia: KACST Signs 13 Partnership Agreements to Build Semiconductor System

KACST signed 13 local and international strategic partnerships to build the semiconductor system. SPA
KACST signed 13 local and international strategic partnerships to build the semiconductor system. SPA

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) signed 13 local and international strategic partnerships to build the semiconductor system, establish centers of excellence to accelerate technical development in emerging technologies and future communications, and qualify national cadres, as part of the work of LEAP tech conference.

KACST's partnerships in the field of localization of the semiconductor industry included, Alat Company, one of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) companies, in which it built and supported the semiconductor system in the Kingdom, while its partnership with the Global Semiconductor Group (GSG) focused on designing electronic chips, building national talents and attracting global competencies and international companies in the field of electronic chip design to the Kingdom market.

In the field of future communications and open networks, KACST through its strategic partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Research, Development and Innovation Authority (RDIA), the Saudi Telecom Company (STC), and Saudi Aramco, established a national technical and industrial alliance in the fields of 5G and 6G communications technologies and Open RAN, to create an ecosystem to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in future communication technologies, ensuring the Kingdom’s global role as a major developer of 6G technologies.

KACST, in partnership with Aramco, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the RDIA, and the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, launched the Saudi Accelerated Innovation Center to enhance quantum technologies and develop 5G and 6G communications networks.
KACST launched a strategic partnership with Animoca Brands to enhance the application of Web 3 system in the Kingdom, facilitate the arrangement of companies and institutions to enter the Web 3 system, and identify joint research and development projects in blockchain applications, games, artificial intelligence, and metaverse development.
To promote public health, KACST has concluded a strategic partnership with Ascend Solutions Ltd. to develop innovation in the field of digital health and disability research, promote virtual health care, and contribute to building innovative health technologies using AI and Internet of Things technologies.
To localize emerging technologies and build future cities, KACST signed a strategic partnership with Cisco Saudi Arabia Limited Company to establish the Virtual Digital Innovation Center (VDIC).
KACST also signed a strategic partnership with Elm Company, to enhance cooperation in the field of future cities' technologies and emerging technologies, in addition to its partnership with Tulip Technologies Company to enhance cooperation in research and development, and training in the field of robotics, AI, and automation.
To achieve the objectives of the Made in Saudi Program, KACST signed a strategic partnership with CiDi Auto (Hong Kong) Limited, to cooperate in research and development activities related to heavy trucks, future transportation technologies, and smart cities, and to explore the feasibility of supplying the Saudi market with these trucks, and work on research, design and manufacturing of vehicles in the Kingdom to join the international market.
Additionally, the partnership is designed to facilitate the testing and implementation of new technologies in KACST laboratories, establishing laboratories in common fields, and hosting technical companies that focus on research, development and innovation activities.
To boost innovation, KACST has established a partnership with the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited to develop the infrastructure of science and technology parks in the Kingdom, facilitate the entry of companies from the Kingdom and Hong Kong into potential markets, help them succeed and adapt, and create opportunities for cooperation in digital service platforms and programs to enhance operating efficiency and provide services in science and technology fields.
Regarding developing the skills of national cadres; the Academy 32 at KACST signed a strategic partnership with Cisco Saudi Arabia Limited and Nortal, to transfer knowledge and qualify human cadres in the field of professional certificates in information technology.


Apple Fined Nearly $2 Billion by the European Union Over Music Streaming Competition 

In this Jan. 3, 2019, file photo the Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP)
In this Jan. 3, 2019, file photo the Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP)
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Apple Fined Nearly $2 Billion by the European Union Over Music Streaming Competition 

In this Jan. 3, 2019, file photo the Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP)
In this Jan. 3, 2019, file photo the Apple logo is displayed at the Apple store in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP)

The European Union leveled its first antitrust penalty against Apple on Tuesday, fining the US tech giant nearly $2 billion for breaking the bloc's competition laws by unfairly favoring its own music streaming service over rivals.

Apple banned app developers from "fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services outside of the app," said the European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s executive arm and top antitrust enforcer.

That is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Apple behaved this way for almost a decade, which meant many users paid “significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions,” the commission said.

The 1.8 billion-euro fine follows a long-running investigation triggered by a complaint from Swedish streaming service Spotify five years ago.

The EU has led global efforts to crack down on Big Tech companies, including a series of multbillion-dollar fines for Google and charging Meta with distorting the online classified ad market. The commission also has opened a separate antitrust investigation into Apple's mobile payments service.

The commission's investigation initially centered on two concerns. One was the iPhone maker's practice of forcing app developers that are selling digital content to use its in-house payment system, which charges a 30% commission on all subscriptions.

But the EU later dropped that to focus on how Apple prevents app makers from telling their users about cheaper ways to pay for subscriptions that don’t involve going through an app.

The investigation found that Apple banned streaming services from telling users about how much subscription offers cost outside of their apps, including links in their apps to pay for alternative subscriptions or even emailing users to tell them about different pricing options.

The fine comes the same week that new EU rules are set to kick in that are aimed at preventing tech companies from dominating digital markets.

The Digital Markets Act, due to take effect Thursday, imposes a set of do's and don'ts on “gatekeeper” companies including Apple, Meta, Google parent Alphabet, and TikTok parent ByteDance — under threat of hefty fines.

The DMA's provisions are designed to prevent tech giants from the sort of behavior that's at the heart of the Apple investigation. Apple has already revealed how it will comply, including allowing iPhone users in Europe to use app stores other than its own and enabling developers to offer alternative payment systems.

The commission also has opened a separate antitrust investigation into Apple’s mobile payments service, and the company has promised to open up its tap-and-go mobile payment system to rivals in order to resolve it.


Minister: Google's Removal of Apps from Play Store in India 'Cannot Be Permitted'

FILE PHOTO: India's Minister for Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses the audience during the 'SemiconIndia 2023', India’s annual semiconductor conference, in Gandhinagar, India, July 28, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: India's Minister for Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses the audience during the 'SemiconIndia 2023', India’s annual semiconductor conference, in Gandhinagar, India, July 28, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo
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Minister: Google's Removal of Apps from Play Store in India 'Cannot Be Permitted'

FILE PHOTO: India's Minister for Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses the audience during the 'SemiconIndia 2023', India’s annual semiconductor conference, in Gandhinagar, India, July 28, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: India's Minister for Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw addresses the audience during the 'SemiconIndia 2023', India’s annual semiconductor conference, in Gandhinagar, India, July 28, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

Google's decision to remove some apps in India from its app store "cannot be permitted", Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday, amid an ongoing dispute over service fee payments to the US firm.
Google on Friday removed from its Play Store many Indian apps, including Matrimony.com's popular Bharat Matrimony and job search app Naukri, saying the companies were not abiding by its in-app payment guidelines.
Vaishnaw said he has held talks with Google and will meet the startups, which needed protection in India.
"This cannot be permitted. This kind of de-listing cannot be permitted," he said in a statement.
Google declined to comment, according to Reuters.
The removal has sparked criticism from many startups who have for years protested and legally challenged many of the US giant's practices, including its in-app fee. Google says the fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store ecosystem.
The dispute centers on efforts by some Indian startups to stop Google from imposing a fee of 11%-26% on in-app payments, after the country's antitrust authorities ordered it to not mandatorily enforce an earlier system of charging 15%-30%.
But Google effectively received the go-ahead to charge the fee or remove apps after two court decisions in January and February, one by the Supreme Court.
Google said on Friday that some Indian companies had chosen not to pay for the "immense value they receive on Google Play".
Among the worst hit by the removals is Matrimony.com which has seen more than 150 of its apps dropped from the Play Store.
"All our apps have been removed and we are out of Play Store and (that) means out of business," founder Murugavel Janakiraman told Reuters on Saturday. "If this continuous for a long term then we will have significant drop in revenue."
Info Edge, another affected company, had seen its job search app Naukri and another real estate search app, removed. Many of the company's app had been restored, its founder said on Saturday on X, without elaborating.
Google briefly removed popular Indian payments app Paytm from its Play Store in 2020 citing some policy violations. The move led to the company's founder and the wider startup industry joining together to challenge Google by launching their own app stores and filing legal cases.


Elon Musk Sues OpenAI for Abandoning Original Mission for Profit

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, June 16, 2023. (Reuters)
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, June 16, 2023. (Reuters)
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Elon Musk Sues OpenAI for Abandoning Original Mission for Profit

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, June 16, 2023. (Reuters)
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, June 16, 2023. (Reuters)

Elon Musk has sued ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman, saying they abandoned the startup's original mission to develop artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity and not for profit.

The lawsuit filed late on Thursday in San Francisco is a culmination to the billionaire's long-simmering opposition to the startup he co-founded and has since become the face of generative AI, partly due to the billions of dollars in funding from Microsoft.

Musk alleged a breach of contract, saying Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman originally approached him to make an open source, non-profit company, but the startup established in 2015 is now focused on making money.

Recounting OpenAI's founding, Musk said the three men had agreed to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI), a concept that machines could handle tasks like a human, but in a way that would "benefit humanity", according to the lawsuit.

OpenAI would also work in opposition to Google, which Musk believed was developing AGI for profit and would pose grave risks.

Instead, OpenAI "set the founding agreement aflame" in 2023 when it released its most powerful language model GPT-4 as essentially a Microsoft product, the lawsuit alleged.

Musk has sought a court ruling that would compel OpenAI to make its research and technology available to the public and prevent the startup from using its assets, including GPT-4, for the financial gains of Microsoft or any individual.

OpenAI, Microsoft and Musk did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The billionaire is also seeking a ruling that GPT-4 and a new and more advanced technology called Q* would be considered AGI and therefore outside of Microsoft's license to OpenAI.

Reuters in November was first to report on Q* and warnings from OpenAI researchers about a powerful AI discovery.

Musk, who runs Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX and bought Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022, stepped down from OpenAI's board in 2018 and has on several occasions called for regulation on AI.

OpenAI's tie-up with Microsoft is under antitrust scrutiny in the United States and Britain following the startup's boardroom battle last year that resulted in the sudden ouster and return of Altman and the creation of a new temporary board.

The startup is planning to appoint new board members in March, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. Microsoft said in November it would have a non-voting, observer seat on the board.

Some legal experts said Musk's allegations of breach of contract, which is partly based on an email between Musk and Altman, could fail to hold up in court.

While contracts can be formed through a series of emails, the lawsuit cites an email that appears to look like a proposal and a "one-sided discussion", said Brian Quinn, a law professor at Boston College Law School.

"To the extent Musk is claiming that the single e-mail in Exhibit 2 is the 'contract', he will fall well short," Quinn said.

Musk's xAI

Musk has mounted a rival AI effort with his startup xAI, which is made up of engineers hired from some of the top US technology firms such as Google and Microsoft that he hopes to challenge.

The startup started rolling out its ChatGPT competitor Grok for Premium+ subscribers of social media platform X in December and aims to create what Musk has said would be a "maximum truth-seeking AI".

The billionaire, who has called AI a "double-edged sword", was among a group of AI experts and industry executives that last year called for a six-month pause in developing systems more powerful than OpenAI's GPT-4, citing great risks to humanity and society.

Since its debut, ChatGPT has been adopted by companies for a wide range of tasks from summarizing documents to writing computer code, setting off a race among Big Tech companies to launch their own offerings based on generative AI.


Dell Rides on the AI Wave to New Record High

This photograph shows Dell Technologies' logo during the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on February 28, 2024. (AFP)
This photograph shows Dell Technologies' logo during the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on February 28, 2024. (AFP)
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Dell Rides on the AI Wave to New Record High

This photograph shows Dell Technologies' logo during the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on February 28, 2024. (AFP)
This photograph shows Dell Technologies' logo during the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the telecom industry's biggest annual gathering, in Barcelona on February 28, 2024. (AFP)

Dell Technologies shares surged 25% to hit a record high on Friday, following an upbeat annual forecast that indicated the tech equipment maker was benefiting from the AI boom.

The stock climbed to $118.8, and was set to add $17.7 billion to the company's market value and on track to register its best intra-day performance.

The surge provides further evidence that rising AI adoption is driving gains across enterprise technology vendors, and adds to the frenzy on Wall Street following Nvidia's stunning rally.

"We have positioned ourselves well in AI," COO Jeff Clarke said on Thursday, noting that more customers were demanding PCs and servers with AI capabilities.

Orders for the company's AI-optimized servers, including the flagship PowerEdge XE9680, jumped 40% sequentially in the fourth quarter, Clarke said.

At least nine brokerages raised their price targets on Dell after the results. Currently, over three-fourths of the analysts have a "buy" or higher rating with a median target price of $113.

More than 31 million Dell shares had changed hands as of 10:40 a.m. Eastern time, more than seven times the stock's 30-day average trading volume.

"Dell's AI business showed strong progress on key metrics... commentary on the PC market was similar to HP's: that a rebound is coming, but it is being pushed out to the second half of the year," said analysts at Bernstein.

PC and enterprise technology vendor HP's sales declined for a seventh straight quarter in the most recent three-month period.

The recent upside in the business comes after Dell struggled for most part of the last two years as worldwide computer sales sharply declined. While revenue fell less-than-expected in its fourth quarter, annual revenue dropped for the first time since re-listing in 2018.

Dell forecast revenue between $91 billion and $95 billion for its current fiscal year ending January 2025, largely above analysts' average estimate of $92.07 billion.


European Consumers Challenge Meta Paid Service as Privacy 'Smokescreen'

Meta has reaped rich financial rewards by selling its users' data to advertisers, but its model has pit it against EU regulators. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP/File
Meta has reaped rich financial rewards by selling its users' data to advertisers, but its model has pit it against EU regulators. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP/File
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European Consumers Challenge Meta Paid Service as Privacy 'Smokescreen'

Meta has reaped rich financial rewards by selling its users' data to advertisers, but its model has pit it against EU regulators. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP/File
Meta has reaped rich financial rewards by selling its users' data to advertisers, but its model has pit it against EU regulators. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP/File

Consumer groups from eight EU countries lodged complaints on Thursday against Meta, accusing the US company of illegally processing user data and using its "pay or consent" system as a "smokescreen" for privacy breaches.
Meta has reaped rich financial rewards by selling Facebook and Instagram user data to advertisers, but its business model has pit the US-based firm against EU regulators over data privacy, AFP said.
In November, Meta launched a "pay or consent" system allowing users to withhold use of their data for ad targeting in exchange for a monthly fee -- a model already facing two challenges from privacy and consumer advocates.
Announcing the latest action, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) called the system "a smokescreen to obscure the real problem of massive, illegal data processing of users which goes on regardless of what users choose."
Eight consumer groups in the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain are filing complaints with their local data protection authorities, the Brussels-based umbrella body said in a statement.
The groups argue that Meta is still violating the European Union's mammoth general data protection regulation, which has been at the root of EU court cases against the online giant.
"It's time for data protection authorities to stop Meta's unfair data processing and its infringing of people's fundamental rights," said Ursula Pachl, BEUC deputy director general.
BEUC in a report said that Meta is violating the EU data law's principles that demand transparency as well as limiting how much user data it processes and what it is used for.
"Meta seems to be of the opinion that in order for the company to earn money with advertising, it is justified to collect any imaginable data on consumers' activities, location, personalities, behavior, attitudes and emotions," the report said.
"In reality, the massive exploitation of the private lives of hundreds of millions of European consumers for commercial gain fails to respect various fundamental principles of the GDPR."
Flurry of complaints
The Silicon Valley company allows users of Instagram and Facebook in Europe to pay between 10 and 13 euros (around $11 and $14) a month to opt out of data sharing.
Under the GDPR law, consent must be freely given but BEUC argues that its model coerces consumers into accepting Meta's processing of their personal data.
"The company also fails to show that the fee it imposes on consumers who do not consent is indeed necessary, which is a requirement stipulated by" an EU top court.
"Under these circumstances, the choice about how consumers want their data to be processed becomes meaningless and is therefore not free," the report said.
The challenges are the latest in a cat-and-mouse game between the EU and Meta.
The EU's data watchdog, the EDPB, in December told Meta it could not use the personal data of users for targeted ads without their explicit consent.
The EDPB is due to decide in the next few weeks whether a fee system like Meta's violates the bloc's data privacy laws.
Thursday's complaint is the third against Meta's "pay or consent" scheme.
BEUC in November said together with 19 of its members that they had launched a joint complaint with Europe's network of consumer protection authorities against the system.
Before that, the privacy group NOYB, which has won countless victories against Meta and others, filed a complaint.