From big moves at Tesla to tech news to SpaceX's first launch of the year – Here's your January 5 news briefing

Tom Zhu, Tesla China's chief, was brought in by Tesla last year to pinpoint production issues in the US.

From big moves at Tesla to tech news to SpaceX's first launch of the year – Here's your January 5 news briefing
Members of media and guests surround the Tesla Model Y during Thailand Tesla's official launch event in Bangkok, Thailand, December 7, 2022. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

To start off, we're looking into:

China’s Tom Zhu steps up to lead Tesla

The backstory: Tom Zhu, Tesla China's chief, was brought in by Tesla last year to pinpoint production issues in the US, making many speculate that he was being groomed for a larger role within the company. Under Zhu's leadership, Tesla's Shanghai plant saw a strong recovery from COVID lockdowns in China. Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk has been a little distracted by his purchase and buyer's remorse about Twitter, and investors have been trying to get the company to get more hands on deck in its senior exec lineup so that Musk can focus on Tesla.

The development: It's been a big week for Zhu, according to Reuters, as he's been promoted to oversee Tesla's US production as well as sales operations in North America, Europe and Asia. Zhu's promotion to lead Tesla's deliveries and production operations reportedly makes him the second-most powerful exec at Tesla, just behind Musk.

What’s next for Cristiano Ronaldo?

Cristiano Ronaldo greets fans during his unveiling at Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr in Riyadh on Tuesday. | AFP-JIJI

The backstory: Football fans were shocked this week when it was announced that Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the world's most well-known athletes, had signed with Saudi Arabian team Al Nassr .

More recently: This all appeared to quickly transition in November when Ronaldo's contract with Manchester United was terminated after he did an explosive TV interview where he criticized the club's hierarchy.

The development: This transfer is expected to bring a lot of attention to Saudi football, especially with a potential bid to host the World Cup in 2030 on the horizon. It's also a big deal for Al Nassr, a team that isn't super well-known outside of Asia. As for Ronaldo, this move probably marks the end of his career in elite club football.

What to expect from CES 2023

Source: CES

The backstory: CES – aka the Consumer Electronics Show – is the biggest annual tech trade show. At this show, held the first week of January, we get a sneak peek of incoming tech that innovators are working on this year. We see what's happening in the world of TVs, laptops, tablets, smart home gadgets, phones, cars and more – even things like smart toilets.

More recently: This year, CES runs from Jan 5-8 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Around 100,000 people are expected to show up. But, before the show begins, press conferences from major exhibitors start rolling out. This means that news about what we can expect has already started coming in.

Check out our full article for things to look out for from this year's show.

To end, we'll look into:

2023: the year of AI

Source: Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk

We saw a lot of interesting AI developments in 2022. The whole AI image generator trend and ChatGPT going completely viral all happened within the past few months. But AI isn’t going to be any less visible in 2023. Actually, the near future of AI is a lot to take in.

Brian X Chen, the lead consumer technology writer for The New York Times, predicts: “For one, it’s very likely that next year you could have a chatbot that acts as a research assistant. Imagine that you are writing a research paper and want to add some historical facts about World War II. You could share a 100-page document with the bot and ask it to sum up the highlights related to a certain aspect of the war. The bot will then read the document and generate a summary for you.”

But AI will be making even bigger strides soon. It will be more than just a nifty tool or fun piece of gadgetry. In the future, AI could become a total necessity.

In the next few years, AI and Machine Learning (ML) could totally change how scientific research is done. For example, scientists will be able to look into ideas with computers that they haven’t been able to experiment with physically because of ethical or material constraints. And in the world of science, AI could also be a major player in addressing climate change. For example, AI could start to connect environmental policy and impact, figuring out exactly how different measures would actually affect the environment using data that humans can’t really sense.

It’s also becoming vital to business processes and strategies. According to a recent Deloitte Insights survey report, 61% of respondents say AI will “substantially transform their industry in the next 3-5 years.” According to Deloitte, “The future of robots in the workplace is increasingly turning toward ‘cobots’: Collaborative robotic teammates that work with us, rather than instead of us.” So, AI probably isn’t something to fear and (hopefully) won’t cause the downfall of humanity like many sci-fi tales tend to predict.

In other news ...

📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks stayed flat at 2624.41 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones is up 0.4% to 33,269.77.
  • Nasdaq Composite boosted 0.0.69% to 10,458.76.
  • S&P 500 gained 0.75% to 3,852.97.
  • Hang Seng Index rose 3.22% to 20,793.11.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • US stocks rallied on Wednesday, with investors beginning 2023 optimistic and excited. This is even though the minutes of the Fed's last meeting in December showed that the Fed would stick to its hawkish monetary policy stance.
  • The Fed's minutes showed that even with cooling inflation, the Fed will keep doubling down on interest rates until inflation was "on a sustained downward path to 2%," according to the meeting summary.
  • Labor market data, a target of interest rate hikes, showed that there are still almost double the amount of job openings compared to workers.
  • Meanwhile, with factories and services continuing to slump, Chinese state media released an interview with Finance Minister Liu Kun saying it would increase fiscal spending. With this, Hong Kong stocks rallied.
  • Helping the sentiment were Chinese regulators approving Ant Group’s consumer unit US$1.5 billion capital raise, which, for many, increases the possibility of an eventual IPO.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • "The Fed wanted to send a message to the market that they would not be easing or cutting rates anytime in 2023. However, we must remember that the Fed also did not forecast raising rates by 400 basis points twelve months ago, so their forecasting ability of their own actions is sometimes quizzical," said Joe Gilbert, portfolio manager for Integrity Asset Management, referring to the minutes of the Fed's December policy meeting.
  • "This is very much wait and see mode. After wrapping up a year that was pretty terrible on all fronts, there's always going to be trepidation by investors to put money to work, and we're seeing that in real time at least in the first two trading days," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Financial.

🛢Oil: Oil prices had two days of losses and sank over 5% on Wednesday as the world's largest crude oil importer, China, is having a COVID surge, so investors are concerned about oil demand. US crude fell 5.3% to US$72.84, and Brent lost 5.2% to US$77.84 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin was up 1.02% at US$16,839.80.

💣Putin’s new missiles: Russia, China and the US are all trying to develop hypersonic weapons to get an edge over any rival. These weapons travel at over five times the speed of sound. On Wednesday, Russian President Putin sent a ship out into the Atlantic armed with new hypersonic cruise missiles in a show of strength and possibly as a signal to the West.

🦠No new variant: As COVID quickly spreads all over China, the international community is worried that a new variant will pop up. On Wednesday, the WHO said that data from China shows no new variant has been found. But, the WHO also says that China is underrepresenting how many people have died in this latest outbreak. China reported five COVID deaths on Tuesday.

💰Reparations refusal: In October, Poland contacted Germany asking for reparations related to WWII. But Germany has said that the issue was already settled decades ago. Poland just announced that Germany rejected its latest reparations request, saying that the issue is closed.

😷The EU bloc’s COVID response: As more and more countries come up with rules about incoming arrivals from China because of COVID concerns, the EU is working on a joint approach to the issue. Right now, it’s considering enforcing pre-departure testing, masks on flights and testing wastewater for possible new variants.

👳‍♂️Male exodus from Afghan universities: Last month, the Taliban banned women from attending Afghan universities. Now, many male academics have been resigning from their jobs at universities, and male students have been dropping out, too. One professor ripped up his degrees on television, saying the country “is no longer a place for education.”


🚙Andrew Tate’s car collection: “Men’s rights influencer” Andrew Tate was arrested in Romania last week on human trafficking and rape charges. A Romanian official is now saying that the government also seized Tate’s collection of 11 luxury cars. Insider confirmed the report and that the cars were being held to pay for the investigation and possibly any payments awarded to the victims.

💔Vietnamese boy in pillar has died: Authorities confirmed the death of the Vietnamese 10-year-old boy trapped in a concrete pillar since Saturday morning. They’ve said the conditions make it impossible that he’s survived, and rescuers are now working to retrieve him for a proper burial.

🎵RIP Joseph Koo: Famed Hong Kong Cantopop composer and musician Joseph Koo died on January 3 in Vancouver, Canada. He was known for contributing greatly to Hong Kong’s identity and composing scores for popular TV and film, like Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury” and “The Way of the Dragon.”

💬Microsoft may enlist ChatGPT: OpenAI released its newest AI chatbot, ChatGPT, to the public in November, and it quickly went viral for its engaging features. Now, an insider has reported to Bloomberg that Microsoft may use ChatGPT on its search engine, Bing, to lure users away from the more popular Google search engine.

💲Coinbase settlement:  Popular crypto trading company Coinbase is in trouble with the US government for allowing people to open accounts without proper background checks, which violates anti-money-laundering laws. Coinbase just settled that lawsuit for US$50 million. It will also be required to spend another US$50 million to boost its compliance.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦World’s most populated country: This year, India is set to overtake China as the most populated country with just under 1.5 billion people, according to the UN. In fact, it may have already happened, but we can’t be sure since India hasn’t had a census since 2011.

🚀SpaceX launch: SpaceX had its first space launch of the year on Tuesday. It shot 114 small satellites into polar orbit to be operated from 23 countries. The payloads will cover a range of missions, from demos to communications to planetary observation.

Source: SpaceX

Written and put together by Joey Fung, Vanessa Wolosz and Christine Dulion