Optus Outage Causes Chaos in Australia before Services Restored

Australian communications company Optus was hit by a major service outage on Wednesday. Saeed KHAN / AFP
Australian communications company Optus was hit by a major service outage on Wednesday. Saeed KHAN / AFP
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Optus Outage Causes Chaos in Australia before Services Restored

Australian communications company Optus was hit by a major service outage on Wednesday. Saeed KHAN / AFP
Australian communications company Optus was hit by a major service outage on Wednesday. Saeed KHAN / AFP

An outage at No.2 Australian telco Optus left nearly half the population without internet or phone on Wednesday, throwing payment, transport and health systems into chaos and raising questions about the fragility of the country's core infrastructure.
The outage was first reported about 4 a.m. local time (1700 GMT on Tuesday) and it was not until almost 5.30 p.m. that Optus said services had been restored, Reuters reported.
Some 10 million Australians, 40% of the population, are Optus customers and could not use smartphones, broadband internet or landlines for much of the day.
Hospitals couldn't take phone calls, small businesses were unable to process electronic payments and train networks and ride share services were down simultaneously in some cities.
The incident sparked criticism about the robustness of Australia's telecommunications network and in particular about Optus, which is owned by Singapore Telecommunications.
"Customers are clearly frustrated about it and Optus should respond to that accordingly," said Communications Minister Michelle Rowland.
No cause of the failure was given but "it has occurred deep within the network (and) it has wide ramifications across mobile, fixed, and broadband services for Optus customers", Rowland added.
Optus reported one of the country's biggest cyber breaches 14 months ago, but CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said she did not believe the latest outage was the result of a hack.
"I mean, it's highly unlikely. Our systems are actually very stable," she said. "This is a very, very rare occurrence."
Under laws introduced in the fallout of the 2022 Optus cyber attack, Australian companies must report to the government within 72 hours if they believe they have experienced a cyber attack.
Industry analyst Paul Budde said the incident showed telecoms companies should be required to accept customers from rival carriers on their networks in emergencies - a reform he said the industry had long resisted.
"These networks aren't just commercial operations," he said in a blogpost. "They are vital infrastructure for our society and economy. Protecting the national interest in the face of serious network failures is paramount."
Parent company SingTel said earlier this year that after the cyber attack Optus made several investments to lift its capabilities and provide additional protection for customers. In a short statement, SingTel confirmed the incident without explanation and noted Optus had apologized.
SingTel shares were down 4.8% on the Singapore stock market.
CUT OFF & FRUSTRATED
Chaos ensued as almost half of Australia was disconnected, one of the biggest network outages the country has witnessed.
"Without my phone I pretty much can't do anything. I'm looking for a bank, and when you can't go onto your phone and Google pretty much you are lost," said Angela Ican, a security officer, in Sydney's central business district.
Melbourne's train networks were forced to shut down for about 30 minutes due to the outage, resulting in delays during the morning rush, media reported.
Hospitals and emergency services across the country were also affected. No. 1 private hospital owner Ramsay Health Care said phone services to its 70 hospitals and clinics were impacted. Emergency triple zero ("000") calls were not working from Optus landlines.
Banking services, including some ATMs using Optus, were also impacted. Commonwealth Bank, the country's biggest lender, said some customers may encounter difficulties with its services.
"Maybe this incident will cause us to have a closer look at how we want to run this critical national infrastructure across multiple private companies," said Bill Corcoran, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Monash University.



SDAIA, NTP Launch Saudi Arabia’s 1st National Data Index

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Transformation Program (NTP) launched on Monday the first National Data Index (Nudei).
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Transformation Program (NTP) launched on Monday the first National Data Index (Nudei).
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SDAIA, NTP Launch Saudi Arabia’s 1st National Data Index

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Transformation Program (NTP) launched on Monday the first National Data Index (Nudei).
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Transformation Program (NTP) launched on Monday the first National Data Index (Nudei).

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Transformation Program (NTP) launched on Monday the first National Data Index (Nudei), the developed version of the Open Data Platform, as well as the Data Governance Platform, in a first for the Kingdom.

The move is a bid to achieve the objectives of promoting transparency, creating a national data-based economy, and contributing to the assessment of data maturity in government entities, specified in the Saudi Vision 2030.

The launch was made during the Saudi Data Forum, organized by the SDAIA and NTP, which kicked off in Riyadh on Monday.

Attending the event were Assistant Minister of Interior for Technology Affairs Prince Bandar bin Abdullah bin Mishari, SDAIA President Dr. Abdullah bin Sharaf Al-Ghamdi, several ministers and senior officials dealing with data from public departments, major local and international institutions and companies.

The National Data Index is the result of the collaboration between SDAIA and NTP. It is a dynamic results-based indicator for follow-up and evaluation that was developed with the aim of assessing and tracking the progress of government agencies in data management, and compliance and operational indicators.

The indicator provides government entities with enabling tools that effectively help measure data management practices and achieve advanced evaluation levels. It covers 14 areas of data management through three key components: data management maturity measurement questionnaire, measurement of compliance with national data management controls and specifications, and measurement of operational indicators.

The indicator aims to establish a robust data governance framework and policies, with the aim of controlling data management practices, measuring data management maturity and ensuring compliance, improving the effectiveness of data management operational processes, and developing compliance and investigation-reporting mechanisms.

It also aims at tracking and controlling compliance with regulations, as well as improving data life cycle management processes to ensure accurate, complete and coordinated data and implement data life cycle management processes to deal with data from creation to disposal in a standard-compliant manner.

It will promote a culture of data management through training programs for government employees and help carry out awareness campaigns for beneficiary groups.

The indicator enhances transparency in all government agencies and tracks their progress in implementing data management practices. The results and recommendations help improve data quality, credibility, and integrity.

SDAIA conducted 15 training workshops for 189 participants from 52 government agencies, followed by 12 virtual workshops that benefited 436 participants. They were aimed at raising awareness about the measurement entities.

An upgraded version of the open data platform was launched during the ceremony. It allows individuals, government, and non-government agencies to publish their open data and make it available to beneficiaries, such as entrepreneurs.

This initiative contributes to building a digital economy in the Kingdom. The platform has so far achieved more than 7,000 open data sets, more than 190 open data publishers, and more than 35 use cases.

The data governance platform that was launched aims to register entities covered by the Personal Data Protection Law. It is bound to raise the level of these entities' commitment to the system's provisions by providing support and advice on preserving the privacy of personal data holders and protecting their rights.

The platform aims to create a unified national registry and enable entities to comply with their obligations stipulated in the system. It develops measurement indicators that reflect the results of the extent of compliance with laws and regulations.

Government agencies can benefit from the platform in easy steps: fill out the registration form, log in through the national unified access platform, complete the entity's profile, and submit data for evaluation. Once the entity obtains the official registration certificate, it can benefit from the various services offered on the platform.

The data governance platform provides government agencies with several services, including notification about a possible data leak, privacy impact assessment, legal support, and a self-assessment tool for compliance with the Personal Data Protection Law and its regulations. It also offers compliance assessment, thus helping promote correct practices and identify and address areas of non-compliance.

The platform provides corrective action follow-up services to ensure that issues do not recur and to achieve the highest levels of responsibility and transparency.

In January 2022, SDAIA and NTP signed a memorandum of understanding to launch new strategic partnerships and smart business solutions, which support the strategic objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 assigned to NTP. SDAIA will also come up with quality digital initiatives related to data and intelligence. Artificial technology will be employed to achieve the NTP goals and enable digital transformation in the Kingdom.


Australia to Amend Law to Regulate Digital Payments Like Apple, Google Pay 

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. (Reuters)
An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. (Reuters)
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Australia to Amend Law to Regulate Digital Payments Like Apple, Google Pay 

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. (Reuters)
An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. (Reuters)

Australia's government said on Monday it would bring Apple Pay, Google Pay and other digital payment services under the same regulatory umbrella as credit cards and other payments as part of legislation set to be introduced to parliament this week.

Digital wallets from the likes of Apple, Google and WeChat developer Tencent have exploded in popularity but are not captured by Australian payments law.

The legislation, first flagged last month, will broaden the legislation that empowers the Reserve Bank of Australia to regulate payments so that it applies to new and emerging technology.

"We are modernizing Australia's payments system to ensure it meets the needs of our economy now and into the future," Treasurer Jim Chalmers said in a statement.

"We want to make sure the increasing use of digital payments occurs in a way that helps promote greater competition, innovation and productivity across our entire economy."

Legislation is set to be introduced on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Chalmers' office.

Regulators are responding to the rapid growth of digital wallets, especially among the young. Transactions from a digital wallet hit 35% of all card transactions in the June quarter, up from 10% in early 2020.

Two-thirds of Australians aged between 18 and 29 use mobile payments. Before the pandemic it was less than 20%.

The amendments will also give a relevant minister power to subject a system or platform to special oversight in the event it presents a risk of "national significance."


Israel Hosts Wartime Visit by Elon Musk, Eyes Starlink for Gaza 

Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)
Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)
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Israel Hosts Wartime Visit by Elon Musk, Eyes Starlink for Gaza 

Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)
Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)

Israel hosted Elon Musk on Monday, saying it had reached an agreement in principle for using his SpaceX company's Starlink communications in the Gaza Strip, where a pause to the war against Hamas coincided with the tech entrepreneur's visit.

Musk's office has yet to comment on the trip.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog has scheduled an afternoon meeting with Musk. They will be joined by relatives of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza and will also discuss "the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online", Herzog's office said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also due to meet Musk on Monday to discuss the security aspects of artificial intelligence and hold a live online discussion, Netanyahu's office said.

When they last met, in California on Sept. 18, Netanyahu urged Musk to strike a balance between protecting free expression and fighting hate speech after weeks of controversy over antisemitism on X - the former Twitter.

Last month, as the war raged following a Hamas killing and kidnapping spree in southern Israel, Musk proposed using Starlink to support communication links in the blackout-hit Gaza enclave with "internationally recognized aid organizations".

At the time, Israeli Communications Shlomo Karhi objected, saying "Hamas will use it (Starlink) for terrorist activities".

But in a new tack, Karhi said on Monday that Israel and Musk had reached an agreement in principle whereby "Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip".

In an X post addressed to Musk, Karhi said he hoped the visit to Israel "will serve as a springboard for future endeavors, as well as enhance your relationship with the Jewish people and values we share with the entire world".

Musk has said he is against antisemitism and anything that "promotes hate and conflict" - including on X.

Antisemitism and Islamophobia have risen worldwide, including during the seven-week-old Gaza war. Israel and Hamas are now in a temporary truce, with some Gaza hostages and Palestinians held by Israel for security offences going free.

On Nov. 15, Musk agreed with a post on X that falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user who referenced the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory was speaking "the actual truth".

The White House condemned what it called an "abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate" that "runs against our core values as Americans".

Major US companies including Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and NBCUniversal parent Comcast paused their advertisements on his social media site.

The "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory holds that Jewish people and leftists are engineering the ethnic and cultural replacement of white populations with non-white immigrants that will lead to a "white genocide."

Following the outbreak of the Gaza war, antisemitic incidents in the United States rose by nearly 400% from the year-earlier period, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that fights antisemitism.

Musk has said X should be a platform for people to post diverse viewpoints, but the company will limit the distribution of certain posts that may violate its policies, calling the approach "freedom of speech, not reach".


Putin to Boost AI Work in Russia to Fight ‘Dangerous’ Western Monopoly

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), accompanied by Russia's top lender Sberbank CEO German Gref (L), touring an exhibition on the sidelines of an AI (artificial intelligence) conference in Moscow on November 24, 2023. (AFP)
This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), accompanied by Russia's top lender Sberbank CEO German Gref (L), touring an exhibition on the sidelines of an AI (artificial intelligence) conference in Moscow on November 24, 2023. (AFP)
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Putin to Boost AI Work in Russia to Fight ‘Dangerous’ Western Monopoly

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), accompanied by Russia's top lender Sberbank CEO German Gref (L), touring an exhibition on the sidelines of an AI (artificial intelligence) conference in Moscow on November 24, 2023. (AFP)
This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C), accompanied by Russia's top lender Sberbank CEO German Gref (L), touring an exhibition on the sidelines of an AI (artificial intelligence) conference in Moscow on November 24, 2023. (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced a plan to endorse a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, emphasizing that it's essential to prevent a Western monopoly.

Speaking at an AI conference in Moscow, Putin noted that “it’s imperative to use Russian solutions in the field of creating reliable and transparent artificial intelligence systems that are also safe for humans.”

“Monopolistic dominance of such foreign technology in Russia is unacceptable, dangerous and inadmissible,” Putin said.

He noted that “many modern systems, trained on Western data are intended for the Western market” and “reflect that part of Western ethics, norms of behavior, public policy to which we object.”

During his more than two decades in power, Putin has overseen a multi-pronged crackdown on the opposition and civil society groups, and promoted “traditional values” to counter purported Western influence — policies that have become even more oppressive after he sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Putin warned that algorithms developed by Western platforms could lead to a digital “cancellation” of Russia and its culture.

“An artificial intelligence created in line with Western standards and patterns could be xenophobic,” Putin said.

“Western search engines and generative models often work in a very selective, biased manner, do not take into account, and sometimes simply ignore and cancel Russian culture,” he said.

“Simply put, the machine is given some kind of creative task, and it solves it using only English-language data, which is convenient and beneficial to the system developers. And so an algorithm, for example, can indicate to a machine that Russia, our culture, science, music, literature simply do not exist.”

He pledged to pour additional resources into the development of supercomputers and other technologies to help intensify national AI research.

“We are talking about expanding fundamental and applied research in the field of generative artificial intelligence and large language models,” Putin said.

“In the era of technological revolution, it is the cultural and spiritual heritage that is the key factor in preserving national identity, and therefore the diversity of our world, and the stability of international relations,” Putin said. “Our traditional values, the richness and beauty of the Russian languages and languages of other peoples of Russia must form the basis of our developments,” helping create “reliable, transparent and secure AI systems.”

Putin emphasized that trying to ban AI development would be impossible, but noted the importance of ensuring necessary safeguards.

“I am convinced that the future does not lie in bans on the development of technology, it is simply impossible,” he said. “If we ban something, it will develop elsewhere, and we will only fall behind, that's all.”

Putin added that the global community will be able to work out the security guidelines for AI once it fully realizes the risks.

“When they feel the threat of its uncontrolled spread, uncontrolled activities in this sphere, a desire to reach agreement will come immediately,” he said.


OpenAI Researchers Warned Board of AI Breakthrough ahead of CEO Ouster, Sources Say

FILE PHOTO: A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed OpenAI logo in this illustration taken February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed OpenAI logo in this illustration taken February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo
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OpenAI Researchers Warned Board of AI Breakthrough ahead of CEO Ouster, Sources Say

FILE PHOTO: A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed OpenAI logo in this illustration taken February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed OpenAI logo in this illustration taken February 21, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

Ahead of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s four days in exile, several staff researchers wrote a letter to the board of directors warning of a powerful artificial intelligence discovery that they said could threaten humanity, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The previously unreported letter and AI algorithm were key developments before the board's ouster of Altman, the poster child of generative AI, the two sources said. Prior to his triumphant return late Tuesday, more than 700 employees had threatened to quit and join backer Microsoft (MSFT.O) in solidarity with their fired leader.
The sources cited the letter as one factor among a longer list of grievances by the board leading to Altman's firing, among which were concerns over commercializing advances before understanding the consequences. Reuters was unable to review a copy of the letter. The staff who wrote the letter did not respond to requests for comment.
After being contacted by Reuters, OpenAI, which declined to comment, acknowledged in an internal message to staffers a project called Q* and a letter to the board before the weekend's events, one of the people said. An OpenAI spokesperson said that the message, sent by long-time executive Mira Murati, alerted staff to certain media stories without commenting on their accuracy.
Some at OpenAI believe Q* (pronounced Q-Star) could be a breakthrough in the startup's search for what's known as artificial general intelligence (AGI), one of the people told Reuters. OpenAI defines AGI as autonomous systems that surpass humans in most economically valuable tasks.
Given vast computing resources, the new model was able to solve certain mathematical problems, the person said on condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company. Though only performing math on the level of grade-school students, acing such tests made researchers very optimistic about Q*’s future success, the source said.


Value of Apple Sales Underperforms Huawei, Xiaomi on China's Singles Day - Data

A woman looks at a new iPhone 15 Pro and a Huawei Mate 60 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China, at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo
A woman looks at a new iPhone 15 Pro and a Huawei Mate 60 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China, at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo
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Value of Apple Sales Underperforms Huawei, Xiaomi on China's Singles Day - Data

A woman looks at a new iPhone 15 Pro and a Huawei Mate 60 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China, at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo
A woman looks at a new iPhone 15 Pro and a Huawei Mate 60 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China, at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo

Apple saw a decline in the value of smartphone sales during China's recent Singles Day shopping festival, data from Counterpoint Research showed, lagging domestic rivals Huawei and Xiaomi which recorded robust increases.
The value of Apple's smartphone sales declined 4% year-on-year during the two-week sales from October 30th to November 12th, the research consultancy said on Thursday. In comparison, the value of sales for Huawei and Xiaomi smartphones grew 66% and 28% respectively year-on-year over the same period.
The increases for Huawei and Xiaomi helped fuel a 5% year-over-year rise in the overall value of Chinese smartphone sales during the promotion period, it said.
The price for Apple's latest iPhone 15 model starts at 5,999 yuan ($832), while Huawei's Mate 60 smartphones start from 5,499 yuan ($763). Xiaomi's latest Mi 14 smartphone is priced from 3,999 yuan ($555).
Huawei, Apple and Xiaomi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
China's e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba and JD.com did not release sales figures for the Singles Day festival, having dropped the practice last year, although JD.com said the value of transaction volume of Apple products surpassed 10 billion yuan ($1.39 billion) on its platform during the period.
Analysts have said the Chinese smartphone market is poised to rebound, with research firm IDC saying it expects sales to grow year-on-year in the fourth quarter after ten consecutive quarters of falling shipments.
Competition between smartphone models ratcheted up before the annual shopping gala, with major Chinese e-commerce platforms offering significant discounts on Apple's iPhones during the sales period.
Apple released its iPhone 15 series in late September, roughly a month after Huawei launched the Mate 60 smartphone line powered by Huawei's independently developed advanced chip.
The Mate 60 series has received significant patriotic support in China with fans saying it shows how Huawei has managed to overcome years of export controls by the United States that initially crippled its smartphone business.
Xiaomi launched its flagship Mi 14 smartphone series in late October, with CEO Lei Jun revealing that sales for the new line had surpassed 1 million units after its release.
In addition to facing competition from domestic rivals, Counterpoint analysts attributed Apple's sluggish performance to supply chain issues that have constrained the availability of its new iPhone 15 models.
"Apple is improving compared to last month but there still seems to be hiccups in terms of supply," said Ivan Lam, senior analyst for manufacturing at Counterpoint, adding that he expects the situation to normalize soon.


Nvidia Outlook Beats Expectations but China Worries Linger

A smartphone with a displayed NVIDIA logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)
A smartphone with a displayed NVIDIA logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)
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Nvidia Outlook Beats Expectations but China Worries Linger

A smartphone with a displayed NVIDIA logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)
A smartphone with a displayed NVIDIA logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Reuters)

Chip designer Nvidia said on Tuesday it expects a steep drop in fourth-quarter sales in China - a key revenue generator - in the wake of new US rules, but forecast overall revenue above Wall Street targets as supply-chain issues ease.

Nvidia, whose graphics processing units (GPUs) dominate the market for AI, is set to take a hit from the vastly expanded US export controls on what the company can sell to China. Sales of the affected chips made up nearly a quarter of Nvidia's datacenter sales in the past few quarters.

"Export controls will have a negative effect on our China business, and we do not have good visibility into the magnitude of that impact even over the long term," Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said during a conference call with analysts.

Kress also confirmed reports that the chip giant is developing newly compliant chips for China but those won't materially contribute to fourth- quarter revenue.

Nvidia stock, which has climbed more than 240% this year, slipped 1.5% in volatile after-hours trading.

The company also faces risks in Israel, whose military is embroiled in a conflict in Gaza and where Nvidia's networking business is headquartered. Sales from that unit, whose gear is used in AI supercomputers, rose 155% from a year ago. Kress said the networking business exceeds a $10 billion annualized run rate.

The chipmaker said a significant portion of its employees based in Israel have been called up to active military duty, and if the war continues, their absence could hurt its future operations.

Nvidia forecast adjusted gross margins of 75.5% for the fourth quarter, above analyst estimates of 72.64%, according to LSEG data. But the company's China troubles could make those margins hard to maintain.

"The company suggested the hit to sales from restrictions would be offset by other regions; however, there were scant details on this. It also begs the question, with margins so extraordinarily high currently, will these offsetting markets support such high margins?" Capital.com analyst Kyle Rodda said.

Still, Nvidia said it expects supply for its AI chips to improve as it prepays to make sure it gets factory priority. It outsources manufacturing to contract chipmakers like TSMC.

Demand for AI servers has grown rapidly. Research firm TrendForce estimates shipments to rise about 40% this year, thanks to their use in powering products like OpenAI's ChatGPT.

BOOMING PROFITS

Nvidia forecast current-quarter revenue of $20 billion, plus or minus 2%. Analysts polled by LSEG expect revenue of $17.86 billion.

Adjusted third-quarter revenue tripled to $18.12 billion, ahead of an average estimate of $16.18 billion. Data center revenue jumped 41% to $14.51 billion, while gaming revenue rose 15% to $2.86 billion.

Excluding items, the company earned $4.02 per share, beating estimates of $3.37 a share.

In response to the newest round of US export rules, Nvidia has already come up with three new products for the Chinese market.

But those China-focused chips could consume vital research resources at Nvidia and could end up banned just like its first round of China market chips, said Jacob Bourne, analyst at Insider Intelligence.

"Nvidia's move to develop specialized chips for the Chinese market, while a strategic response to export restrictions, faces challenges," Bourne said.

US officials unveiled a new batch of restrictions in October and said they will continue to update them as needed.

Last week, the company also introduced a new AI chip called the H200, which will offer superior performance to Nvidia's current top H100 processor.

The H200 includes additional high-bandwidth memory, one of the most expensive parts of the chip, which determines how much data it can crunch quickly.

Rival Advanced Micro Devices had earlier touted the quantity of high-bandwidth memory on one of its competing AI chips.

Major tech companies including Alphabet's Google, Amazon.com and most recently Microsoft have announced AI chips produced by in-house design teams in addition to purchasing Nvidia's hardware for their own data centers.

Building custom chips can cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years, but gives the major cloud companies the ability to include features tied specifically to their AI needs.

Microsoft unveiled a duo of custom-designed computing chips earlier this month, one of which can run large language models.

Chinese tech company Huawei's AI chip is also gaining traction from local firms as US pressure makes it hard to access Nvidia chips.


OpenAI Says Ousted CEO Sam Altman to Return to Company behind ChatGPT

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testifies before a Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology & the Law Subcommittee hearing titled 'Oversight of A.I.: Rules for Artificial Intelligence' on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, May 16, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File photo
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testifies before a Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology & the Law Subcommittee hearing titled 'Oversight of A.I.: Rules for Artificial Intelligence' on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, May 16, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File photo
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OpenAI Says Ousted CEO Sam Altman to Return to Company behind ChatGPT

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testifies before a Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology & the Law Subcommittee hearing titled 'Oversight of A.I.: Rules for Artificial Intelligence' on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, May 16, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File photo
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testifies before a Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology & the Law Subcommittee hearing titled 'Oversight of A.I.: Rules for Artificial Intelligence' on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, May 16, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File photo

The ousted leader of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI is returning to the company that fired him late last week, the latest in a saga that has shocked the artificial intelligence industry.
San Francisco-based OpenAI said in a statement late Tuesday: “We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board" made of former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.
OpenAI’s previous board of directors, which included D'Angelo, had refused to give specific reasons for why it fired Altman on Friday, leading to a weekend of internal conflict at the company and growing outside pressure from the startup's investors.
Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and has rights to its technology, quickly moved to hire Altman on Monday, as well as another co-founder and former president, Greg Brockman, who had quit in protest after Altman's removal. That emboldened a threatened exodus of nearly all of the startup's 770 employees who signed a letter calling for the board's resignation and Altman's return.
Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott put out a call to the startup’s employees Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter: “Know that if needed, you have a role at Microsoft that matches your compensation and advances our collective mission.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also made clear in a series of interviews Monday that he was still open to the possibility of Altman returning to OpenAI, so long as the startup's governance and board problems are solved.
“We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board,” Nadella posted on X late Tuesday. “We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.”
In his own post, Altman said that “with the new board and (with) Satya's support, I'm looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with (Microsoft)."
Co-founded by Altman as a nonprofit with a mission to safely build so-called artificial general intelligence that outperforms humans and benefits humanity, OpenAI later became a for-profit business but one still run by its nonprofit board of directors. It's not clear yet if the board's structure will change with its newly appointed members.
Nadella said Brockman, who was OpenAI's board chairman until Altman's firing, will also have a key role to play in ensuring OpenAI “continues to thrive and build on its mission.”
Hours earlier, Brockman returned to social media as if it were business as usual, touting a feature called ChatGPT Voice that was rolling out for free to everyone who uses the chatbot.
“Give it a try — totally changes the ChatGPT experience,” Brockman wrote, flagging a post from OpenAI's main X account that featured a demonstration of the technology playfully winking at recent turmoil.
“It’s been a long night for the team and we’re hungry. How many 16-inch pizzas should I order for 778 people,” the person asks, using the number of people who work at OpenAI. ChatGPT's synthetic voice responded by recommending around 195 pizzas, ensuring everyone gets three slices.
As for OpenAI's short-lived interim CEO Emmett Shear, the second interim CEO in the days since Altman's ouster, he posted on X that he was “deeply pleased by this result, after (tilde)72 very intense hours of work.”
“Coming into OpenAI, I wasn't sure what the right path would be,” Shear wrote. “This was the pathway that maximized safety alongside doing right by all stakeholders involved. I'm glad to have been a part of the solution.”


Global Smartphone Market Sees Growth after over 2 Years in October

People rest eating ice cream and reading their smartphones outside the GUM department store, enjoying a warm autumn day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (AP)
People rest eating ice cream and reading their smartphones outside the GUM department store, enjoying a warm autumn day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (AP)
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Global Smartphone Market Sees Growth after over 2 Years in October

People rest eating ice cream and reading their smartphones outside the GUM department store, enjoying a warm autumn day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (AP)
People rest eating ice cream and reading their smartphones outside the GUM department store, enjoying a warm autumn day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (AP)

The global smartphone market returned to growth in October after more than two years of slump, helped by a recovery in the emerging markets, according to data from Counterpoint Research.

The data showed that global monthly smartphone sell-through volumes grew 5%, making October the first month to record year-on-year growth since June 2021, breaking the streak of 27 consecutive months of negative year-on-year growth.

Global smartphone sales have been under stress for the last two years affected by various issues starting with component shortages, inventory build-up and lengthening of replacement cycles, Counterpoint said in its report.

"Following strong growth in October, we expect the market to grow year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2023 as well, setting the market on the path to gradual recovery in the coming quarters," the market research firm said.

The growth, which was last seen in June 2021 coming from a COVID-19 induced pent up demand, has now been led by emerging markets with a continuous recovery in the Middle East and Africa, Huawei's comeback in China and onset of festive season in India, it added.

Huawei's China smartphone sales grew strongly in the third quarter, surging 37%, as shoppers snapped up its Mate 60 series phones.

The developed markets with relatively higher smartphone saturation have been slower to recover, the report said, but it cited the launch of Apple's iPhone 15 series as another factor for the growth.


US Lawmakers Accuse X Chief Musk of Profiting from Anti-Israel Propaganda

Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)
Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)
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US Lawmakers Accuse X Chief Musk of Profiting from Anti-Israel Propaganda

Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)
Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk pauses during an in-conversation event with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in London, Britain, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (Reuters)

A group of 27 US lawmakers, all Democrats, wrote to X owner Elon Musk on Tuesday to express concern the platform seemed to be profiting from premium accounts that glorified violence against Israelis.

In the letter to Musk and X chief executive Linda Yaccarino, the lawmakers noted reports from nonprofit organizations that showed people with X Premium accounts "glorifying barbaric acts of violence against Israelis."

The letter is the latest fight between Musk, who bought Twitter and renamed it X, and those who have advocated for better content moderation. X sued the watchdog group Media Matters on Monday, alleging it defamed the platform after it published a report that said ads for major brands had appeared next to posts touting Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

"These reports demonstrated that X is profiting from the spread of this gruesome and harmful propaganda through account subscription fees and ad revenue," the lawmakers wrote, adding that much of the offensive content remained live despite being flagged by researchers.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawmakers said X profited from the posts both from subscription fees as well as ads displayed in replies to both Premium and regular posts.

"X has financially benefited from the spread of demonstrably false and misleading content as well," the lawmakers wrote.

X's US ad revenue has declined at least 55% year-over-year each month since Musk's takeover. Advertisers have left the platform since Musk bought it for $44 billion in October 2022 because of some of Musk's controversial posts and layoffs of employees who worked to moderate content.

The lawmakers also noted that the United States had designated Hamas as a terrorist organization in 1997, which means that it was unlawful to knowingly provide material support or resources to the group.

"There is no ambiguity about whether violent videos generated by the group qualify under these policies. These are videos that carry official Hamas branding and iconography," the lawmakers wrote.