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Tesla Said to Plan Start for Mass Production of Cybertruck Pickup Truck by End of 2023

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By Reuters | Updated: 1 November 2022

Tesla aims to start mass production of its Cybertruck at the end of 2023, two years after the initial target for the long-awaited pickup truck Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled in 2019, two people with knowledge of the plans told Reuters.

Tesla said last month that it was working on readying its Austin, Texas plant to build the new model with “early production” set to start in the middle of 2023. “We’re in the final lap for Cybertruck,” Musk told a conference call with financial analysts.

A gradual ramp in the second half of next year to full output for the sharp-angled electric truck would mean that Tesla would not be recording revenue until early 2024 for a full-quarter of production on a new model seen as key to its growth.

It would also mean a wait of another year for the estimated hundreds of thousands of potential buyers who have paid $100 (roughly Rs. 8,300) to reserve a Cybertruck in one of the most highly anticipated, and closely tracked electric vehicle launches ever.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

It has not announced final pricing on the Cybertruck, showed the production version of the vehicle or specified how it will manage the battery supply for the new model.

In 2019, Tesla had projected an initial price of under $40,000 (roughly Rs. 33 lakh), but prices for new vehicles have shot higher since then and Tesla has raised prices across its lineup.

Cracked windows

Musk introduced Cybertruck in a 2019 reveal where the vehicle’s designer cracked the vehicle’s supposedly unbreakable “armor glass” windows. The company has pushed back production timing three times since: from late 2021 to late 2022, then to early 2023 and most recently to the mid-2023 target for initial production.

The launch of the Cybertruck will give Tesla an EV entrant in one of the most profitable segments of the US market and a competitor to electric pickups from the likes of Ford Motor and Rivian Automotive, both of which have launched models in still-limited numbers.

In January, Musk had cited shortages in sourcing components as the reason for pushing the launch of Cybertruck into 2023.

In May, Tesla stopped taking orders for the Cybertruck outside North America. Musk said then the company had “more orders of the first Cybertrucks than we could possibly fulfill for three years after the start of production.”

Automakers often ramp production slowly for an all-new model like the Cybertruck.

Analysts have also cautioned that a weakening global economy will start to weigh on sales for Tesla, which has so far been able to sell every car it makes. Musk has said he expected a coming recession would last “probably until Spring of ’24.”

IDRA Group, the Italian company making the Giga Press that will be used for die casting parts for the Cybertruck, said in a LinkedIn post last week that the 9,000-ton machine for truck part production was packed and ready to be shipped.

The post did not name Tesla. Tesla has been using the Giga Press to cut the cost and complexity of production of its Model Y, an innovation other automakers, including Toyota, have studied.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Sony Ready to Make Humanoid Robots Quickly Once Usage Becomes Clear, CTO Hiroaki Kitano Says

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Sony launched an advanced version of its robot dog Aibo in 2018, selling about 20,000 units within six months.
By Reuters | Updated: 6 December 2022

Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate Sony Group said on Tuesday it has the technology to make humanoid robots quickly once it has identified how they could be effectively used.

“In terms of technology, several companies in the world including this one have enough technology accumulated to make them swiftly once it becomes clear which usage is promising,” Sony Chief Technology Officer Hiroaki Kitano told Reuters in an interview.

“The key is the development of application,” Kitano said.

Sony launched a robot dog called Aibo more than two decades ago. It sold about 150,000 units of Aibo from 1999 until 2006 and launched an advanced version in 2018, selling about 20,000 units in the first six months.

Humanoid robots have been in development for decades by Honda Motor and Hyundai Motor and in September, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk showed off a prototype of its humanoid robot Optimus.

Musk’s company is floating plans to deploy thousands of the robots in its factories, expanding eventually to millions around the world.

Sony launched a robot dog called Aibo more than two decades ago. It sold about 150,000 units of Aibo from 1999 until 2006 and launched an advanced version in 2018, selling about 20,000 units in the first six months.

Humanoid robots have been in development for decades by Honda Motor and Hyundai Motor and in September, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk showed off a prototype of its humanoid robot Optimus.

Musk’s company is floating plans to deploy thousands of the robots in its factories, expanding eventually to millions around the world.

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Cryptocurrency

Goldman Sachs Looking at Buying, Investing in Bargain Crypto Firms Impacted by FTX Collapse

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Goldman is doing due diligence on a number of different crypto firms, according to Goldman Sachs' head of digital assets.
By Reuters | Updated: 6 December 2022

Goldman Sachs plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to buy or invest in crypto companies after the collapse of the FTX exchange hit valuations and dampened investor interest.

FTX’s implosion has heightened the need for more trustworthy, regulated cryptocurrency players, and big banks see an opportunity to pick up business, Mathew McDermott, Goldman’s head of digital assets, told Reuters.

Goldman is doing due diligence on a number of different crypto firms, he added, without giving details.

“We do see some really interesting opportunities, priced much more sensibly,” McDermott said in an interview last month.

FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States on November 11 after its dramatic collapse, sparking fears of contagion and amplifying calls for more crypto regulation.

“It’s definitely set the market back in terms of sentiment, there’s absolutely no doubt of that,” McDermott said. “FTX was a poster child in many parts of the ecosystem. But to reiterate, the underlying technology continues to perform.”

While the amount Goldman may potentially invest is not large for the Wall Street giant, which earned $21.6 billion (roughly Rs. 1,78,129 crore) last year, its willingness to keep investing amid the sector shakeout shows it senses a long term opportunity.

Its CEO David Solomon told CNBC on November 10, as the FTX drama was unfolding, that while he views cryptocurrencies as “highly speculative”, he sees much potential in the underlying technology as its infrastructure becomes more formalised.

Rivals are more sceptical.

“I don’t think it’s a fad or going away, but I can’t put an intrinsic value on it,” Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said at the Reuters NEXT conference on December 1.

HSBC CEO Noel Quinn, meanwhile, told a banking conference in London last week he has no plans to expand into crypto trading or investing for retail customers.

Goldman has invested in 11 digital asset companies that provide services such as compliance, cryptocurrency data and blockchain management.

McDermott, who competes in triathlons in his spare time, joined Goldman in 2005 and rose to run its digital assets business after serving as head of cross asset financing.

His team has grown to more than 70 people, including a seven-strong crypto options and derivatives trading desk.

Goldman Sachs has also together with MSCI and Coin Metrics launched data service datonomy, aimed at classifying digital assets based on how they are used.

The firm is also building its own private distributed ledger technology, McDermott said.

‘Trusted’ players

The global cryptocurrency market peaked at $2.9 trillion (roughly Rs. 2,39,07,000 crore) in late 2021, according to data site CoinMarketCap, but has shed about $2 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,64,96,900 crore) this year as central banks tightened credit and a string of high-profile corporate failures hit. It last stood at $865 billion (roughly Rs. 7,100 crore) on December 5.

The ripple effects from FTX’s collapse have boosted Goldman’s trading volumes, McDermott said, as investors sought to trade with regulated and well capitalised counterparties.

“What’s increased is the number of financial institutions wanting to trade with us,” he said. “I suspect a number of them traded with FTX, but I can’t say that with cast iron certainty.”

Goldman also sees recruitment opportunities as crypto and tech companies shed staff, McDermott said, although the bank is happy with the size of its team for now.

Others also see the crypto meltdown as a chance to build their businesses.

Britannia Financial Group is building its cryptocurrency-related services, its chief executive Mark Bruce told Reuters.

The London-based company aims to serve customers who are eager to diversify into digital currencies, but who have never done so before, Bruce said. It will also cater to investors who are very familiar with the assets, but have become nervous about storing funds at crypto exchanges since FTX’s collapse.

Britannia is applying for more licenses to provide crypto services, such as doing deals for wealthy individuals, he said

“We have seen more client interest since the demise of FTX,” he said. “Customers have lost trust in some of the younger businesses in the sector that purely do crypto, and are looking for more trusted counterparties.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Cryptocurrency

US FTC Investigating Several Crypto Firms Over ‘Possible Misconduct’ Concerning Digital Assets

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The FTC has also pursued companies that presented themselves as cryptocurrency-related firms but which were allegedly nothing more than scams.
By Reuters | Updated: 6 December 2022

A US agency that probes allegations of deceptive conduct confirmed on Monday that it had investigations open into several cryptocurrency firms for “possible misconduct.” The Federal Trade Commission spokesperson declined to name the firms or say precisely what actions prompted the investigations.

“While we can’t comment on current events in the crypto markets or the details of any ongoing investigations, we are investigating several firms for possible misconduct concerning digital assets,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Bloomberg said in a report that the investigation was linked to misleading advertising but the FTC spokesperson declined to confirm this.

The spectacular implosion of FTX recently sent fresh shock waves through the cryptocurrency industry, with the value of Bitcoin down sharply this year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which also has regulations mandating disclosures from individuals promoting securities, has cracked down on celebrity endorsements, including reality TV star Kim Kardashian on allegations of promoting a crypto token on her Instagram account without proper disclosure that she had been paid.

The FTC has also pursued companies that presented themselves as cryptocurrency-related firms but which were allegedly nothing more than scams.

Back in June, the FTC said in a report that more than 46,000 people reported losing over $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,233 crore) in cryptocurrency scams since the start of 2021.

Nearly half the people who reported losing digital currencies in a scam said it started with an ad, post or a message on a social media platform, according to the FTC.

The craze for cryptocurrencies was at a fever pitch last year with Bitcoin hitting a record high of $69,000 (roughly Rs. 56 lakh) in November 2021.

Nearly four out of every ten dollars lost in a fraud originating on social media was lost in crypto, far more than any other payment method, with Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram being the top social media platforms in such cases, according to the FTC’s report.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Airtel, Meta to Jointly Invest in Global Connectivity Infrastructure in India to Cater to Rising Demand

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Airtel will partner with Meta and STC (Saudi Telecom Company) to extend 2Africa Pearls, the world's longest subsea cable system, to India.
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 6 December 2022

Social media giant Meta Platforms and Bharti Airtel on Monday announced a collaboration to jointly invest in telecom infrastructure to cater to the rising demand of high speed data and digital services in India.

The announcement comes on the back of telecom operators’ demand to share revenue with service providers to build networks.

“Airtel and Meta will jointly invest in global connectivity infrastructure and CPaaS (communications platform as a service) based new-age digital solutions to support the emerging requirements of customers and enterprises in India,” the statement said.

Social media giant Meta Platforms and Bharti Airtel on Monday announced a collaboration to jointly invest in telecom infrastructure to cater to the rising demand of high speed data and digital services in India.

The announcement comes on the back of telecom operators’ demand to share revenue with service providers to build networks.

“Airtel and Meta will jointly invest in global connectivity infrastructure and CPaaS (communications platform as a service) based new-age digital solutions to support the emerging requirements of customers and enterprises in India,” the statement said.

As part of the collaboration, Airtel will partner with Meta and STC (Saudi Telecom Company), to extend the world’s longest subsea cable system, 2Africa Pearls, to India.

The plan to extend 2Africa Pearls to India was announced by Meta in September 2021.

Under the collaboration, Airtel and Meta will extend the cable to Airtel’s landing station in Mumbai and also pick up dedicated capacity to further strengthen its submarine network portfolio.

“The 2Africa cable will significantly boost India’s cable capacity and empower global hyper-scalers and businesses to build new integrated solutions and provide a high-quality seamless experience to customers,” the statement said.

Airtel will also integrate Meta’s WhatsApp within its CPaaS platform. With this integration, businesses will now be able to use WhatsApp and reach to provide omnichannel customer engagement to enterprises.

“We, at Airtel, are delighted to deepen our partnership with Meta to serve India’s digitally connected economy by leveraging the technology and infrastructure strengths of both companies. With our contributions to the 2Africa cable and Open RAN, we are investing in crucial and progressive connectivity infrastructure which is needed to support the increasing demand for high-speed data in India,” Bharti Airtel, CEO for Global Business, Vani Venkatesh said.

Airtel and Meta are members of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open RAN project group. Airtel has signed an agreement to help increase the operational efficiency of Open RAN (radio access network) and facilitate energy management and automation in radio networks using advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning models.

Airtel is currently conducting trials for 4G and 5G Open RAN solutions on select sites in the state of Haryana and will commercially deploy the solution across several locations in India over the next few quarters, the statement said.

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Airtel to further advance the region’s connectivity infrastructure that will enable a better network experience for people and businesses across India,” Meta, vice president of mobile partnerships, Francisco Varela said.

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Social Networking

Facebook Dating Will Allow Users to Verify Their Age Using AI Face Scanning, Meta Says

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Meta says the new age verification systems will help stop children from accessing features meant for adults.
By ANI | Updated: 6 December 2022

Meta on Monday announced that it has introduced a new method for users to verify their age on its Facebook Dating service. Facebook is experimenting with methods, such as using an AI face scanner, to allow users of the platform’s dating service to verify their age.

Meta announced in a blog post that it would start prompting users on Facebook Dating to verify that they’re over 18 if the platform suspects a user is underage.

Users can then verify their age by sharing a selfie video that Facebook shares with a third-party business or by uploading a copy of their ID. According to Meta, the company, Yoti, uses facial cues to determine a user’s age without identifying them.

Meta says the new age verification systems will help stop children from accessing features meant for adults. It doesn’t appear that there are any requirements for adults to verify their age on Facebook Dating.

The US social media giant has used Yoti for other age verification purposes, including vetting Instagram users who attempt to change their birthdate to make them 18 or older.

However, according to a report by The Verge, the system isn’t equally accurate for all people: Yoti’s data shows that its accuracy is worse for “female” faces and people with darker complexions.

Last year, Instagram announced that it had started prompting users to fill in their birthday details. The prompts could initially be dismissed but the social media giant eventually made it compulsory for users who wanted to continue using Instagram. The prompts were designed to ascertain how old users were on Instagram and prevent content that isn’t suitable for young people to appear on their feed. At the time, Instagram had stated that the information is necessary for new features it was developing to protect young people.

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Meta Threatens to Remove News From Platform if US Congress Passes Media Bill

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US lawmakers are said to be considering adding the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to a must-pass annual defence bill.
By Reuters | Updated: 6 December 2022

Facebook parent Meta Platforms on Monday threatened to remove news from its platform if the US Congress passes a proposal aimed at making it easier for news organisations to negotiate collectively with companies like Alphabet’s Google and Facebook.

Sources briefed on the matter said lawmakers are considering adding the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to a must-pass annual defense bill as way to help the struggling local news industry. Meta spokesperson Andy Stone in a tweet said the company would be forced to consider removing news if the law was passed “rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”

Meta statement on the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act: pic.twitter.com/kyFqKQw7xs— Andy Stone (@andymstone) December 5, 2022

He added the proposal fails to recognise that publishers and broadcasters put content on the platform because “it benefits their bottom line – not the other way around.”

The News Media Alliance, a trade group representing newspaper publishers, is urging Congress to add the bill to the defense bill, arguing that “local papers cannot afford to endure several more years of Big Tech’s use and abuse, and time to take action is dwindling. If Congress does not act soon, we risk allowing social media to become America’s de facto local newspaper.”

More than two dozen groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Computer & Communications Industry Association on Monday urged Congress not to approve the local news bill saying it would “create an ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters” and argued the bill does not require “funds gained through negotiation or arbitration will even be paid to journalists.”

A similar Australian law, which took effect in March 2021 after talks with the big tech firms led to a brief shutdown of Facebook news feeds in the country, has largely worked, a government report said.

Since the News Media Bargaining Code took effect, various tech firms including Meta and Alphabet have signed more than 30 deals with media outlets, compensating them for content that generated clicks and advertising dollars, the report added.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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