“I have just turned everyone into a programmer,” says Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang

Jensen Huang, chief executive officer of chip phenom Nvidia Corp., is getting the kind of treatment usually reserved for celebrities and sports stars during a trip to Taiwan.

| Updated on: May 30 2023, 15:34 IST
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Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA Crop., attends a press conference at the Computex 2023 in Taipei on May 30, 2023. (AFP)

Jensen Huang, chief executive officer of chip phenom Nvidia Corp., is getting the kind of treatment usually reserved for celebrities and sports stars during a trip to Taiwan.

The 60-year-old was followed around a local night market as he picked up food over the weekend, and has been mobbed constantly by fans and media as he walked the hallways at the Computex trade show. On Tuesday, dozens of people crowded in next to him for selfies, while photographers tried to get clear shots.

The day marked Huang's fifth public appearance in seven days, this time for a roundable where he fielded questions on topics from artificial-intelligence regulation to how the technology would be used in places like China. Huang made the case that AI will spill over the boundaries of the tech industry into everything from farming and factories to pharmaceuticals and climate change.

“AI is an incredible computer that's very easy to program,” he said. “You can speak whatever language you like, you can even draw pictures. “I have just turned everyone into a programmer.”

Nvidia shares rose more than 3% in premarket trading, pushing the company closer to a $1 trillion market capitalization.

Nvidia has had a dizzying week. It began when Huang on Wednesday forecast revenue for the current quarter that was more than 50% beyond analyst estimates, signaling explosive demand for the chips powering artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT.

Nvidia's market capitalization soared $184 billion in a single day and drove an AI rally around the world. The company's valuation is closing in the $1 trillion mark, a level no chipmaker has ever hit. One analyst responded with a research note entitled, “Greatest Beat of All Time?”

Huang's wealth surged by more than $6 billion to a record $34 billion. He co-founded the company in 1993 and still runs it as chief executive officer.

At the roundtable on Tuesday, Huang was by turns earnest and exuberant. Asked about government regulation, he acknowledged the potential risks.

“We have to be very serious about AI safety,” he said. “Ultimately AI is a product or a service. All products and services should be regulated and should be safe.”

Huang said two of his favorite opportunities for AI are not in the tech industry, but rather in drug discovery and understanding climate change.

He was most measured in discussing China. Semiconductor technology has been at the heart of rising US-China tensions, and Washington has prohibited certain Nvidia products from being exported to China. Still, he imagines Beijing will support AI development.

“I would think that China would use the opportunity to foster all of its local entrepreneurs,” he said.

Nvidia largely relies on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. to manufacture the chips it designs, but Huang said the company has built its supply chain for resilience and redundancy. It has begun to use Samsung Electronics Co. for manufacturing and is considering Intel Corp. as a production partners too, he said.

“We manufacture in as many places as we can,” he said.

Born in Taiwan, Huang has been treated like a rock star since he landed on the island for the Computex trade show.

He began the trip by giving a commencement address at the National Taiwan University. He regaled students with stories of how Nvidia almost died in its early years and the lessons he learned from such trying experiences. He also encouraged them to familiarize themselves with AI — no matter what field they're in — because the technology will transform the corporate landscape and change every single job.

On Monday, he spent two hours on stage for a Computex keynote, unveiling a sweeping array of new products to meet the frenzied demand for AI. The lineup included a new robotics design, gaming capabilities, advertising services, networking technology and, perhaps most important, an AI supercomputer platform.

Huang bemoaned the fact that he hadn't been able to give such a presentation for four years due to the pandemic. As a result, he said the company had many things to show the world. “It's too much,” Huang said near the end of the presentation. “I know it's too much.”

But after the roundtable on Tuesday, it was clear Huang was relishing his moment in the spotlight. After another round of goodbyes, he headed out for another press conference to talk about Nvidia's products.

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First Published Date: 30 May, 15:33 IST
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