davosDavos Refocuses Attention on Technology as Strong Driver of Global Economic Growth and Essential Element in Fighting Climate Change

This year’s edition of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos came to a close today, capping five days of presentations, speeches and conversations focused mostly on climate change and the role of technology as a driver of prosperity.

From my perspective, the summit demonstrated the importance of tech as a critical driver of economic growth and an absolutely essential piece of the solution to battling climate change.

I strongly recommend reading this fascinating transcript of CNBC’s excellent interview at Davos with Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who clearly connects the dots between tech, trade, climate change and global economic growth.


tesla

Tesla Tops $100 Billion in Market Valuation

Elon Musk is on a roll. Tesla’s market valuation has exceeded expectations greatly, just days after SpaceX completed a difficult test that would enable it to carry astronauts into orbit. President Trump compared Musk favorably to genius inventors such as Thomas Edison.

“Tesla has displaced Volkswagen as the world's second most valuable carmaker, after a dramatic rise in share price pushed its market value to more than $100bn,” according to BBC News. “The milestone sets the stage for chief Elon Musk to collect billions in pay tied to hitting that target. Tesla's share price has more than doubled since October, when the firm reported a rare quarterly profit.”


coronavirusChina Puts Cities on Lockdown After Virus Outbreak

China is ramping up its efforts to contain the spread of a dangerous virus that has already killed 17 people and infected hundreds, according to news reports.

“The deadly pneumonia-like disease was first identified on December 31, 2019, in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province. It has since spread beyond Wuhan to major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Macau, and Hong Kong. Abroad, Thailand has confirmed cases, and the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan have each reported one case,” write Weizhen Tan and Joanna Tan of CNBC. “On Thursday, China put on lockdown the two cities at the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak. Most transport in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was suspended on Thursday morning and people were told not to leave. Hours later, state media in neighboring Huanggang, a city of some 6 million people, said it was imposing a similar lockdown.”


aiAlphabet CEO: AI ‘More Profound Than Fire or Electricity’

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Alphabet CEO  Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai said the impact of AI would be “more profound than fire or electricity.”

He also backed the idea of a worldwide framework for AI, likening it to climate change as a truly global phenomenon. “Pichai had also stopped by Brussels on his way to Davos, giving a rare public speech, where he called on regulators to coordinate their approaches to artificial intelligence,” write Amy Thomson and Stephanie Bodoni of Bloomberg.


hackphoneUN Blames Saudis for Hacking Jeff Bezos’ Phone

A new mystery is swirling around one of the world’s wealthiest tech titans, whose phone was allegedly hacked by agents of a foreign government, possibly using malware hidden within a WhatsApp server.

“The United Nations is calling for an investigation after receiving information suggesting that Saudi Arabia's crown prince was potentially involved in hacking the phone of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post,” write Alfred Ng and Ben Fox Rubin of CNET. “The UN said Saudi authorities had shown a pattern of targeted cyberattacks on its political opponents, including Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated by Saudi government officials in October 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey.”

In a tweet, the Saudi Embassy in the U.S. called the allegations “absurd.”


appleNew Low-Cost iPhone May Debut in March

Plans to manufacture and launch a new low-cost iPhone are moving ahead rapidly, according to reports. Apple will also launch a series of new high-end phones in 2020.

“Apple Inc. suppliers plan to begin assembling a new low-cost iPhone in February, people familiar with the plan said, as the company looks to address a wider swath of the global smartphone market ahead of its 5G handsets later this year,” write Debby Wu and Mark Gurman in Bloomberg. “The Cupertino, California-based company is expected to officially unveil the new phone as early as March, one person familiar with its road map said.”

Apple is hoping the new phones will help it compete more successfully against lower-priced Android phones in Asia and other markets.