Nvidia’s Jensen Huang promises new computing age led by Taiwanese tech

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TAIWAN – Lifelike “digital humans” that will serve as everything from your nurse to your interior decorator. Virtual fashion models. A digital simulation of the entire earth. 

Those were just a few of the products and ideas floated by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during his keynote address at the 2024 Taipei International Information Technology Show, better known as Computex. Huang enthralled a packed house with the claim that the world has entered a “new industrial revolution.”

“In the future, Taiwan will build computers that walk,” Huang said as he showed images of nine humanoid robots and several wheeled robots while emphasizing that this robotic “future” is already here. 

The possibilities are endless, he said. Artificial Intelligence will create AI teams with an “agent” that interacts with you. The “agent,” however, is a combination of dozens of different types of generative AIs. Artificial intelligence that masters the laws of physics. A new computer board with a chip called Blackwell so fast it makes a mockery of Moore’s Law.

In a talk that lasted nearly two hours, Huang spoke passionately about how radically different “the generative computing era” will be from the past. Much of the tech talk was incomprehensible to non-experts, but the overall message was clear: the computing world has been mostly running on ideas that are 60 years old. But, after 20 years of work in collaboration with other Taiwanese tech giants such as TSMC, Nvidia and its partners have reinvented the computing wheel. No more info retrieval. Instead, when you want info, it will be generated – thus being more relevant and up-to-date than anything that can be “found.” 

Huang showed off four new “AI laptops,” and spoke about the next wave of AI: Physical AIs. These will include robots that learn in a virtual world that simulates the laws of physics, teaching the robot to flawlessly act in the real world. “In the future, anything that moves will be automated,” said a voiceover in one of the videos Huang showed. But he stressed that “the future” isn’t some abstract idea, noting that everything he had shown is currently in development. Huang spoke of “robotic factories” being created in Taiwan now by companies such as Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics maker. 

Watching Huang’s presentation offered a great deal of validation to the fears that AI and robots will take or replace human jobs, and perhaps humans themselves. But Huang sees a bright future as we break free of CPUs and enter a “tectonic shift” that includes something called “the omniverse.” 

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Huang holding up a circuit board while giving a talk.

Jensen Huang, co-founder and CEO of Nvidia Corp., gives a talk in Taipei, Taiwan. (Annabelle Chih/Bloomberg via / Getty Images)

Huang is immensely popular in Taiwan. Since he arrived in Taipei on May 26 he’s been hounded by packs of somewhat aggressive reporters. When leaving a dinner with some of the richest tech titans on the planet, Huang hopped into a regular yellow taxicab, not some chauffeured limo. 

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Huang showcasing humanoid robots.

Jensen Huang displays the capabilities of AI at an event. (Annabelle Chih/Bloomberg via / Getty Images)

Local newspapers use terms like “rockstar” to describe him, while another common comparison is to Steve Jobs. Like Jobs, Huang understands the power of a “look,” almost always wearing his trademark black leather jacket, despite temperatures in Taiwan this time of year hovering around 85 degrees. 

Jobs, however, was called “difficult” by even close friends and had a reputation for being somewhat aloof and inaccessible. In this regard, Huang couldn’t be more different. He’s self-deprecating, especially about his language skills, despite apparently being relatively fluent in Mandarin Chinese. During the Computex presentation, he told the crowd he’d like to speak in Chinese but that his brain couldn’t run that fast so he’d stick to English, which he mostly did while getting in plenty of well-timed Chinese one-liners as well as several sentences in Taiwanese (or Hokkien, a local language spoken by some 70% of Taiwanese).

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Jensen explaining the usage of Nvidia chips.

Jensen Huang discussing the function of Nvidia chips with the use of AI. (Annabelle Chih/Bloomberg via / Getty Images)

Huang ended his address with a tribute to Taiwan, “the unsung hero of the coming AI industrial revolution.” His praise for his birthplace of Taiwan was, of course, popular with the crowd and those watching the livestream of the event, but Huang has used both words and deeds to demonstrate his sincerity. 

Just before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Saturday game between two of Taiwan’s professional baseball teams, Huang told the media, “This is a very exciting time for Taiwan… We are at the beginning of a new age of computing, the age of AI, and Taiwan is at the center.” 

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Huang has repeatedly touted the overachieving, underappreciated nation of Taiwan.

“Taiwan is one of the most important countries in the world. It is at the center of the electronics industry. The computer industry is built because of Taiwan, so it’s a very, very important country,” he told a local reporter who asked for a comment as Huang was buying snacks at a night market in Taipei. 

Huang repeated the word, country, not “area,” “region,” or some other generic neutral geographic moniker. His comments became headline news in Taiwan, and few think Huang misspoke. As Huang showed the 100-plus “countries and regions” that are working with Nvidia and other Taiwan tech companies to create this new future, one large area was not shaded green: The People’s Republic of China.

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