Gmail Revolutionized Email 20 Years Ago. People Thought It Was Google’s April Fool’s Day Joke

16 August 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A lettering with the Google logo is stuck on a glass pane in the press center of Koelnmesse. (dpa)
16 August 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A lettering with the Google logo is stuck on a glass pane in the press center of Koelnmesse. (dpa)
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Gmail Revolutionized Email 20 Years Ago. People Thought It Was Google’s April Fool’s Day Joke

16 August 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A lettering with the Google logo is stuck on a glass pane in the press center of Koelnmesse. (dpa)
16 August 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne: A lettering with the Google logo is stuck on a glass pane in the press center of Koelnmesse. (dpa)

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin loved pulling pranks, so much so they began rolling outlandish ideas every April Fool's Day not long after starting their company more than a quarter century ago. One year, Google posted a job opening for a Copernicus research center on the moon. Another year, the company said it planned to roll out a “scratch and sniff” feature on its search engine.

The jokes were so consistently over-the-top that people learned to laugh them off as another example of Google mischief. And that's why Page and Brin decided to unveil something no one would believe was possible 20 years ago on April Fool's Day.

It was Gmail, a free service boasting 1 gigabyte of storage per account, an amount that sounds almost pedestrian in an age of one-terabyte iPhones. But it sounded like a preposterous amount of email capacity back then, enough to store about 13,500 emails before running out of space compared to just 30 to 60 emails in the then-leading webmail services run by Yahoo and Microsoft. That translated into 250 to 500 times more email storage space.

Besides the quantum leap in storage, Gmail also came equipped with Google's search technology so users could quickly retrieve a tidbit from an old email, photo or other personal information stored on the service. It also automatically threaded together a string of communications about the same topic so everything flowed together as if it was a single conversation.

“The original pitch we put together was all about the three ‘S’s” — storage, search and speed," said former Google executive Marissa Mayer, who helped design Gmail and other company products before later becoming Yahoo's CEO.

It was such a mind-bending concept that shortly after The Associated Press published a story about Gmail late on the afternoon of April Fool's 2004, readers began calling and emailing to inform the news agency it had been duped by Google's pranksters.

“That was part of the charm, making a product that people won't believe is real. It kind of changed people’s perceptions about the kinds of applications that were possible within a web browser," former Google engineer Paul Buchheit recalled during a recent AP interview about his efforts to build Gmail.

It took three years to do as part of a project called “Caribou” — a reference to a running gag in the Dilbert comic strip. “There was something sort of absurd about the name Caribou, it just made make me laugh,” said Buchheit, the 23rd employee hired at a company that now employs more than 180,000 people.

The AP knew Google wasn't joking about Gmail because an AP reporter had been abruptly asked to come down from San Francisco to the company's Mountain View, California, headquarters to see something that would make the trip worthwhile.

After arriving at a still-developing corporate campus that would soon blossom into what became known as the “Googleplex,” the AP reporter was ushered into a small office where Page was wearing an impish grin while sitting in front of his laptop computer.

Page, then just 31 years old, proceeded to show off Gmail's sleekly designed inbox and demonstrated how quickly it operated within Microsoft's now-retired Explorer web browser. And he pointed out there was no delete button featured in the main control window because it wouldn't be necessary, given Gmail had so much storage and could be so easily searched. “I think people are really going to like this,” Page predicted.

As with so many other things, Page was right. Gmail now has an estimated 1.8 billion active accounts — each one now offering 15 gigabytes of free storage bundled with Google Photos and Google Drive. Even though that's 15 times more storage than Gmail initially offered, it's still not enough for many users who rarely see the need to purge their accounts, just as Google hoped.

The digital hoarding of email, photos and other content is why Google, Apple and other companies now make money from selling additional storage capacity in their data centers. (In Google's case, it charges anywhere from $30 annually for 200 gigabytes of storage to $250 annually for 5 terabytes of storage). Gmail's existence is also why other free email services and the internal email accounts that employees use on their jobs offer far more storage than was fathomed 20 years ago.

“We were trying to shift the way people had been thinking because people were working in this model of storage scarcity for so long that deleting became a default action,” Buchheit said.

Gmail was a game changer in several other ways while becoming the first building block in the expansion of Google's internet empire beyond its still-dominant search engine.

After Gmail came Google Maps and Google Docs with word processing and spreadsheet applications. Then came the acquisition of video site YouTube, followed by the introduction of the Chrome browser and the Android operating system that powers most of the world's smartphones. With Gmail's explicitly stated intention to scan the content of emails to get a better understanding of users' interests, Google also left little doubt that digital surveillance in pursuit of selling more ads would be part of its expanding ambitions.

Although it immediately generated a buzz, Gmail started out with a limited scope because Google initially only had enough computing capacity to support a small audience of users.

“When we launched, we only had 300 machines and they were really old machines that no one else wanted,” Buchheit said, with a chuckle. “We only had enough capacity for 10,000 users, which is a little absurd.”

But that scarcity created an air of exclusivity around Gmail that drove feverish demand for an elusive invitations to sign up. At one point, invitations to open a Gmail account were selling for $250 apiece on eBay. “It became a bit like a social currency, where people would go, ‘Hey, I got a Gmail invite, you want one?’” Buchheit said.

Although signing up for Gmail became increasingly easier as more of Google's network of massive data centers came online, the company didn't begin accepting all comers to the email service until it opened the floodgates as a Valentine's Day present to the world in 2007.

A few weeks later on April Fool's Day in 2007, Google would announce a new feature called “Gmail Paper” offering users the chance to have Google print out their email archive on “94% post-consumer organic soybean sputum " and then have it sent to them through the Postal Service. Google really was joking around that time.



Huawei Teases Launch of New Smartphone, High-End Model Anticipated

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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Huawei Teases Launch of New Smartphone, High-End Model Anticipated

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)

Chinese tech giant Huawei has started allowing customers to register their interest in an upcoming smartphone model it has yet to describe, stoking anticipation that the latest version of its high-end P series phones is on its way.

The company jumped back into the premium smartphone market last year with its Mate 60 series, a launch celebrated by state media as a triumph over US sanctions on the firm. The launch has also been blamed for a steep decline in Apple's iPhone sales in China.

Speculation has built up in recent months that Huawei will soon launch the P70, which is expected to, like the Mate 60, contain an advanced China-made chip.

Huawei's P series has advanced cameras and is known for its sleek design, while the Mate series, also high-end, emphasizes performance and business features.

A Thursday product launch for a smart car model and laptop did not mention phones, disappointing legions of fans who complained online. But on Friday, checks made by Reuters at three Huawei stores in Beijing found that interested buyers could register to receive information about a phone without making a deposit.

Registered customers will be notified about the phone's specs and colors in due course, sales staff said.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Mate 60, notably launched during a trip by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to China, did not involve any prior advertising or disclosure of specifications, prompting some users and companies to tear down the phones as they sought to work out its capabilities.

"Huawei kills two birds with one stone," Will Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC, said of this tactic. He noted that the firm could maintain a lower profile amid US-Sino trade tensions while generating an air of mystery and excitement over the launches.

Archie Zhang, a smartphone analyst at Counterpoint Research, noted that the availability of stock has been a significant constraint for the Mate 60 and would likely be so for the P70 as well.

Huawei has had to slow production for Mate 60 phones due to production constraints and the need to prioritize manufacturing of artificial intelligence chips, sources have said.


Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Elon Musk revealed Friday that Tesla will pull back the curtain on a robotaxi this summer, news that comes as adoption of self-driving vehicles hits speed bumps over safety concerns.
The billionaire boss of the electric car maker did not provide details, saying only in his post on X that the "Tesla Robotaxi unveil" will come on August 8.
Tesla shares rose more than three percent in after-market trades following the post, after finishing the day down, AFP said.
Musk has long boasted of work Tesla is doing on its systems for electric cars to drive themselves.
Tesla models with FSD (Full Self-Driving) "will be superhuman to such a degree that it will seem strange in the future that humans drove cars, even while exhausted and drunk!" he said in a post on X in March.
Musk has also said that owners of Tesla vehicles with FSD will be able to have their cars serve as robotaxis, rather than remain idly parked.
Despite its potential, rollout of self-driving vehicles in the United States has been tentative and rocky so far as both regulators and the public voice safety concerns.
San Francisco has been a testing ground for the technology.
Robotaxis from Google's Waymo in the city have been targeted by vandals opposed to autonomous vehicles, while GM-owned Cruise indefinitely suspended its robotaxi service at the end of October after several accidents sparked a crackdown by California regulators.
Tesla's "autopilot" feature has also come under scrutiny, facing accusations the marketing of the feature oversold its actual capabilities.
Tesla's robotaxi reveal came on the heels of a Reuters report that the company had abandoned Musk's long-touted plan to manufacture an electric car model selling close to $25,000 to drive adoption in the mass market.
Musk fired off a post denying the report.
Tesla this week reported sharply lower first-quarter auto sales amid an underwhelming demand outlook for electric vehicles, while legacy players including Toyota rode improved US inventories to higher sales.
Musk's auto giant reported global deliveries fell 8.5 percent in the quarter, reflecting in part a weak sales market in China, where it faces heavy competition from local electric vehicle makers.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the quarterly results "an unmitigated disaster."


Bumpy Ride for Electric Cars in Europe

Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Bumpy Ride for Electric Cars in Europe

Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Electric cars are a key part of Europe's green transition plans but the road ahead remains littered with obstacles with 10 years to go before a crucial milestone.
Despite the fact that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the European Union as of 2035, sales of plug-in "zero emission" vehicles have stalled in the region in recent months, AFP said.
The market share for electric cars has shrunk from 14.16 percent last year to 12 percent or less since the start of this year, a drop attributed mainly to Germany's decision to abruptly halt subsidies for electric car purchases on Europe's biggest market at the end of 2023.
Sigrid de Vries, director general of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), expressed "concern".
Fewer than 30 percent of Europeans say they plan to buy an electric vehicle (EV), according to the ACEA, and more than half refuse to pay more than 35,000 euros ($37,750) for a car, a price level offering few EVs.
The "2035 deadline... is really just around the corner, especially when you talk production cycles," de Vries told an EV conference last week in Lillestrom, Norway.
"We need to go from 15 percent (zero-emission cars) to 100 percent in about just around 10 years," she said.
At the end of 2023, EVs passed the "tipping point" of five percent -- considered the point of mass adoption -- in 31 countries around the world, according to the Bloomberg news agency.
But only two-thirds of the EU's 27 member states have surpassed this level.
Cars are Europeans' primary mode of transport, and account for 15 percent of Europe's CO2 emissions.
Making vehicles emissions-free is therefore essential if the EU wants to meet its climate commitments.
Norway, a non-EU member -- and also a major oil and gas producer -- is a leader in EV adoption.
Led by Tesla, electric vehicles accounted for 90 percent of new car registrations in Norway in the first quarter thanks to generous tax incentives.
The country aims to reach the 100 percent mark by 2025.
Carmakers like Volkswagen and Volvo have already ended sales of their combustion models in Norway.
See-sawing sales
Elsewhere, the industry's electrification is largely sluggish.
Britain has pushed back by five years its ban on the sale of new combustion cars, now expected in 2035, and many see this target as unrealistic to reach in Europe.
But Nissan, one of the first traditional carmakers to roll out a plug-in with its Leaf model, says sales that yo-yo are not a concern.
"It see-saws and it will always be like that," Guillaume Pelletreau, Nissan's vice president of electrification and connected services, told AFP.
"There was a really strong start to the wave of electrification in the past two years and now we are starting to normalize the process a bit," he said.
"We see nonetheless a clear upwards trend."
Volkswagen, Stellantis and Renault plan to introduce new, less expensive electric models in coming months, but they are also relying on their hybrid models to boost sales.
One of the main hurdles cited by industry experts is the difficulty to roll out the necessary EV infrastructure quickly and broadly.
More than half of the EU's charging stations are found in just two countries: Germany and the Netherlands, according to the ACEA.
In Spain for example, where people replace their cars only every 14 years on average, 65 percent of owners park them in the street, making charging a challenge, said Isabel Gorgoso, head of "new mobility" at energy group Cepsa.
"If you think about Norway 10 years ago, then you have Spain now," she said.
Other obstacles cited are the heaps of EU regulations for carmakers -- up to nine new ones per year -- and ever-changing national policies, which could be exacerbated further by rising support for Europe's populist movements, which are generally climate-skeptic.
"With high-stake European elections around the corner, what happens in the next few months could really determine the fate of Europe's vehicle industry," de Vries said.


US and Japan Announce Joint Partnership to Accelerate Nuclear Fusion

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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US and Japan Announce Joint Partnership to Accelerate Nuclear Fusion

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)

The United States and Japan announced a joint partnership to accelerate development and commercialization of nuclear fusion, the US Department of Energy said on Wednesday.

The partnership was announced as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was in Washington for a summit with President Joe Biden.

US Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk and the Japan Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama, met in Washington on Tuesday to discuss fusion.

The partnership is intended to focus on addressing scientific and technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion.

Scientists, governments, and companies have been trying for decades to harness fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the sun, to provide carbon-free electricity. It can be replicated on Earth with heat and pressure using lasers or magnets to fuse two light atoms into a denser one, releasing large amounts of energy.

Unlike plants that run on fission, or splitting atoms, commercial fusion plants, if ever built, would produce little long-lasting radioactive waste.

The two countries will also agree to support sustainable aviation fuel in a statement from the summit, two sources with knowledge of the talks between the countries said.


Top Games Including ‘World of Warcraft’ to Return to China

This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)
This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)
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Top Games Including ‘World of Warcraft’ to Return to China

This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)
This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)

"World of Warcraft" is returning to China this summer, its developer and local partner said Wednesday, more than a year after dismayed fans saw the hugely popular video game and other titles pulled from the market in a contract dispute.

US-based game-maker Blizzard and China's NetEase said a new deal would see "World of Warcraft" (WoW) return alongside first-person shooter "Overwatch" and spin-offs such as WoW card game "Hearthstone".

"Beloved video game titles from Blizzard Entertainment that captivated millions of players in China will return to the market sequentially, beginning this summer, under a renewed publishing deal," the companies said in a statement.

WoW's Chinese servers went offline in January 2023, prompting a wave of mourning and anger from fans who poured years of their lives into building up their in-game points.

Chinese social media users on Wednesday cheered the return of Blizzard's titles to the market, with "Blizzard announces return" and "NetEase and Blizzard remarry" the top trending searches on the Weibo platform.

"Today, our long-lost old friend returns, our most beloved game returns," gaming blogger "Scarlet Bunny" wrote in a Weibo post.

"Come back to life, my beloved!" another fan wrote.

'Thrilled to align'

Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, WoW is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in a fantasy Medieval world where good battles evil.

It is known for its immersive and addictive gameplay, and players can rack up hundreds of hours of game time.

Blizzard's games launched in China in 2008, through collaboration with internet giant NetEase -- under local law, foreign developers are required to partner with Chinese firms to enter the market.

But after 14 years and acquiring millions of players in China, the two firms announced in November 2022 that talks over renewing their operating contract had failed to lead to an agreement.

"After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences," the companies said in their statement.

Some long-time WoW players remained bitter about the title's extended absence from China.

"The Chinese market is not Blizzard's living room where you come and leave as you want. Players are not playthings in Blizzard's hands that you take or abandon at will," one gamer wrote on Weibo, calling for a boycott.

Difficult years

The news will be a welcome boost for NetEase, which like many of the country's tech giants has had a rough few years after a government crackdown on the industry.

Since 2021, children under 18 years old have only been allowed to play online between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school term.

Gamers are required to use their ID cards when registering to play online to ensure minors do not lie about their age.

Companies are also prohibited from offering gaming services to young people outside government-mandated hours.

An end to a freeze in gaming licenses had raised hopes that the focus on the industry had subsided.

But then in December a set of draft guidelines aimed at limiting in-game purchases and preventing obsessive gaming behavior sent shares in NetEase and its rivals tumbling.

Authorities backtracked a day later, announcing that the rules would be further revised, though it did not give details.

The draft rules were later removed from the regulator's website.


Report: Apple's India iPhone Output Hits $14 Bln

FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo
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Report: Apple's India iPhone Output Hits $14 Bln

FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo

Apple Inc has assembled $14 billion worth of iPhones in India in fiscal 2024, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.
Apple now makes as much as 14% or about 1 in 7 of its marquee devices from India, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Foxconn assembled nearly 67% while Pegatron Corp made about 17% of the India-made iPhones, the Bloomberg report added. Wistron Corp's plant in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, which the Tata Group took over last year, made the remaining.
Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Apple is increasingly looking to diversify its supply chain beyond China amid geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington, even as China remains the largest iPhone-making hub in the world.
Reuters reported on Monday that Pegatron is in advanced talks to hand over control of its only iPhone manufacturing facility, located near Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, to the Tata Group.
The Indian consumer goods conglomerate is also building another plant in Hosur in Tamil Nadu, with Pegatron likely to emerge as its joint venture partner.


Intel Reveals Details of New AI Chip to Fight Nvidia Dominance

The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)
The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)
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Intel Reveals Details of New AI Chip to Fight Nvidia Dominance

The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)
The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)

Intel detailed a new version of its artificial intelligence chip at its Vision event on Tuesday that takes aim at Nvidia's dominance in semiconductors that power AI.

Tech companies are hunting for an alternative source of the scarce chips that are needed for AI. Intel said that its new Gaudi 3 chip was capable of training a specific large language models 50% more quickly than Nvidia's prior generation H100 processor. It is also capable of computing generative AI responses, a process called inference, more quickly than the H100 chips for some of the models Intel tested.

"Our customers, first and foremost, are asking for choice in the industry," said Intel vice president, strategy and product management Jeni Barovian. "They are coming to us and they are expecting that Intel, as a computing leader, will follow the wave of (generative AI) and deliver solutions that meet their needs. And they are looking for an open approach."

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices have struggled to produce a compelling bundle of chips and the software necessary to build AI applications that can become a viable alternative to Nvidia. Nvidia controlled roughly 83% of the data center chip market in 2023, with a majority of the remaining 17% share held by Google's custom tensor processing units (TPUs) that it does not sell directly.

Intel used Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co's 5nm process to build the chips. Gaudi 3 includes two main processor chips fused together, and is more than twice as fast as its predecessor. The chip is designed to be strung together with thousands of others and when done so can generate an enormous amount of computer power.

The Gaudi 3 chip will be available to server builders such as Supermicro and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the second quarter of this year.

The next generation of Gaudi chips will be code named Falcon Shores.


South Korea to Invest $7 Bln in AI in Bid to Retain Edge in Chips 

Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)
Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)
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South Korea to Invest $7 Bln in AI in Bid to Retain Edge in Chips 

Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)
Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday his country will invest 9.4 trillion won ($6.94 billion) in artificial intelligence by 2027 as part of efforts to retain a leading global position in cutting-edge semiconductor chips.

The announcement, which also includes a separate 1.4 trillion won fund to foster AI semiconductor firms, comes as South Korea tries to keep abreast with countries like the United States, China and Japan that are also giving massive policy support to strengthen semiconductor supply chains on their own turf.

Semiconductors are a key foundation of South Korea's export-driven economy. In March, chip exports reached their highest in 21 months at $11.7 billion, or nearly a fifth of total exports shipped by Asia's fourth-largest economy.

"Current competition in semiconductors is an industrial war and an all-out war between nations," Yoon told a meeting of policymakers and chip industry executives on Tuesday.

By earmarking investments and a fund, South Korea plans to significantly expand research and development in AI chips such as artificial neural processing units (NPUs) and next-generation high-bandwidth memory chips, the government said in a statement.

South Korean authorities will also promote the development of next-generation artificial general intelligence (AGI) and safety technologies that go beyond existing models.

Yoon has set a target for South Korea to become one of the top three countries in AI technology including chips, and take a 10% or more share of the global system semiconductor market by 2030.

"Just as we have dominated the world with memory chips for the past 30 years, we will write a new semiconductor myth with AI chips in the next 30 years," Yoon said.

Yoon also noted that the impact of the recent earthquake in Taiwan, a global leader in semiconductors, on South Korean companies was limited as of now, but ordered thorough preparation in the event of uncertainties.


China Central Bank to Set Up $70 Bln Tech Re-lending Program

People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
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China Central Bank to Set Up $70 Bln Tech Re-lending Program

People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

China's central bank will set up a 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) re-lending program to support the country's science and technology sectors, according to a statement released on Sunday.

The program will offer loans via 21 banks to small and midsize technology companies at an interest rate of 1.75%, Reuters reported.

The one-year loans can be extended twice, for up to a year each time, the statement said.

China's policymakers look to boost liquidity and increase confidence in the world's second-biggest economy amid headwinds from a property crisis and frictions with major trading partners.


Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Elon Musk revealed Friday that Tesla will pull back the curtain on a robotaxi this summer, news that comes as adoption of self-driving vehicles hits speed bumps over safety concerns.
The billionaire boss of the electric car maker did not provide details, saying only in his post on X that the "Tesla Robotaxi unveil" will come on August 8.
Tesla shares rose more than three percent in after-market trades following the post, after finishing the day down, AFP said.
Musk has long boasted of work Tesla is doing on its systems for electric cars to drive themselves.
Tesla models with FSD (Full Self-Driving) "will be superhuman to such a degree that it will seem strange in the future that humans drove cars, even while exhausted and drunk!" he said in a post on X in March.
Musk has also said that owners of Tesla vehicles with FSD will be able to have their cars serve as robotaxis, rather than remain idly parked.
Despite its potential, rollout of self-driving vehicles in the United States has been tentative and rocky so far as both regulators and the public voice safety concerns.
San Francisco has been a testing ground for the technology.
Robotaxis from Google's Waymo in the city have been targeted by vandals opposed to autonomous vehicles, while GM-owned Cruise indefinitely suspended its robotaxi service at the end of October after several accidents sparked a crackdown by California regulators.
Tesla's "autopilot" feature has also come under scrutiny, facing accusations the marketing of the feature oversold its actual capabilities.
Tesla's robotaxi reveal came on the heels of a Reuters report that the company had abandoned Musk's long-touted plan to manufacture an electric car model selling close to $25,000 to drive adoption in the mass market.
Musk fired off a post denying the report.
Tesla this week reported sharply lower first-quarter auto sales amid an underwhelming demand outlook for electric vehicles, while legacy players including Toyota rode improved US inventories to higher sales.
Musk's auto giant reported global deliveries fell 8.5 percent in the quarter, reflecting in part a weak sales market in China, where it faces heavy competition from local electric vehicle makers.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the quarterly results "an unmitigated disaster."