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Weekly News (Week 10)

China offering premium salary for AI talent

In China, the demand for talent with generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) skills, like those behind ChatGPT, is surging, leading to significantly higher salaries for these professionals. Computer engineers with GenAI expertise command an average annual salary of 480,000 yuan ($66,700), considerably above the 290,000 yuan for those without such skills. This trend extends across various tech roles, with Chinese companies, from tech giants like Baidu and Alibaba to startups. The enthusiasm for GenAI is also spurred by the introduction of technologies like Sora, with Chinese members of the Sora team receiving high praise.

Luckin surpasses Starbucks in China annual sales for the first time

Luckin Coffee has overtaken Starbucks in annual sales, becoming the largest coffee chain in China for the first time. In 2023, Luckin’s total net revenue surged to 24.9 billion yuan ($3.46 billion), an 87.3% increase from the previous year. This growth reflects the changing preferences of Chinese coffee consumers, with coffee evolving from a niche product to a mass consumer good. Luckin’s success is attributed to its adaptable store format, which has outperformed Starbucks in accommodating this shift. The company’s rapid expansion has resulted in 16,248 stores by the end of 2023, marking a 97.8% increase year-on-year.

Yum China CEO says consumers are growing ‘rational’

Yum China’s CEO, Joey Wat, believes Chinese consumers are growing more rational despite economic concerns. While Yum China’s stock fell 27% in a year, its sales surged in Q4, driven by new store openings. The company’s success is attributed to strong growth in lower-tier cities due to affordable housing. Yum China is currently operating companies like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. With plans for expansion, the company aims to open more than 20,000 locations by 2026 despite forecasts of China’s economic slowdown in 2024.

Two sessions meeting begins in China amid slow economic growth

China’s upcoming parliamentary meetings are closely watched for signals on economic stimulus as the country’s GDP growth in 2023, at 5.2%, fell short of expectations due to sluggish recovery from the pandemic, real estate market slumps, and weakened global demand for exports. Authorities are expected to tread cautiously on new policy support, avoiding large-scale stimulus like that of 2008. Discussions will likely focus on fiscal deficit targets, monetary policy adjustments, and plans to bolster tech innovation.

Meta to launch new AI language model in July

Meta Platforms is set to launch Llama 3 in July, aiming to enhance its artificial intelligence capabilities, particularly in handling contentious queries. This update is part of Meta’s efforts to make its large language model more useful and nuanced, especially when compared to rivals like Google, which recently faced challenges with its Gemini AI. Llama 3 seeks to provide context for controversial questions, improving upon Llama 2’s limitations, which avoids answering certain sensitive topics. Additionally, Meta plans to improve tone and safety by appointing an internal overseer for training, indicating a strategic focus on nuanced and responsible AI development amidst the competitive landscape of AI technologies.

Apple cancels is electric vehicle project

Initiated in 2014, Apple has halted its long-standing “Project Titan,” aimed at creating an autonomous electric car, leading to potential layoffs for hundreds of employees involved. Despite the investment and the employment of up to 5,000 workers at its peak, Apple struggled to define a clear direction for the project, which oscillated between developing an electric vehicle to compete with Tesla and creating a fully autonomous car. This cancellation comes as the automotive industry rethinks electric and autonomous vehicle investments, and as Apple looks to refocus its efforts, potentially moving some team members to its generative AI projects.

Nvidia CEO says AI could pass human test in five years

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang suggested that artificial general intelligence (AGI) could arrive within five years, depending on the definition of AGI. However, he acknowledged that the concept of AGI is still debated among scientists, making it challenging for engineers to pursue. Regarding the need for more chip factories to support AI industry growth, Huang indicated that while more fabs are necessary, advancements in algorithms and processing efficiency would mitigate the demand for additional chips over time.

Toyota introduces huge incentives for its hydrogen car

Toyota is offering a substantial discount on its 2023 Mirai Limited, a fuel-cell vehicle, reducing its price from $66,000 to an effective $11,000 after accounting for incentives of $40,000 and a $15,000 hydrogen fuel credit. This drastic price cut highlights the challenges facing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCEVs), notably the scarcity of hydrogen refueling infrastructure, particularly in California where most hydrogen stations are located.

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