The Wall Street Journal stated that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is attempting to reshape the worldwide semiconductor business by soliciting investments totaling trillions of dollars. Altman has long lamented that OpenAI is constrained in its expansion due to the supply-and-demand issue around AI processors.
A large number of AI companies desire these chips, yet there is a shortage of supply. Several investors, including the UAE government, are allegedly in discussions with him about a project that would raise the world’s capacity to manufacture chips, as reported Thursday night in The Wall Street Journal.
According to one source cited by The Wall Street Journal, Altman may require funding anywhere from $5 trillion to $7 trillion for the undertaking. CNBC was unable to verify the figure. When asked for comment, OpenAI remained silent.
The world need more artificial intelligence infrastructure—fab capacity, energy, datacenters, etc.—than what is being planned to be built, according to OpenAI, according to Wednesday’s article by Altman on X. Also, he mentioned that OpenAI would do its best to assist with “building massive-scale AI infrastructure, and a resilient supply chain,” which are vital to economic competitiveness.
we believe the world needs more ai infrastructure–fab capacity, energy, datacenters, etc–than people are currently planning to build.
building massive-scale ai infrastructure, and a resilient supply chain, is crucial to economic competitiveness.
openai will try to help!
— Sam Altman (@sama) February 7, 2024
This comes after Altman was embroiled in controversy for his past semiconductor investments and projects. According to reports, Altman traveled to the Middle East to solicit investment capital for a new semiconductor company code-named “Tigris” that he had planned to launch in the future to compete with Nvidia. This was just before he was briefly removed as CEO of OpenAI.
Altman put his own money into the artificial intelligence chip company Rain Neuromorphics in 2018, and OpenAI committed to spending $51 million on Rain’s chips in 2019. U.S. authorities forced a Saudi Aramco-backed VC fund to divest from Rain in December.
With a market cap that more than tripled in 2023, Nvidia has been the major moneymaker throughout the generative AI boom in the past year. Big language models developed by OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, and an increasing number of well-funded companies competing for a share of the generative AI market are powered by the graphics processing units (GPUs) manufactured by the firm.
Nvidia is on the verge of surpassing digital behemoths like Alphabet and Amazon in terms of market worth, as it presently owns over 80% of the market for artificial intelligence chips, with a current valuation of approximately $1.72 trillion. Altman probably wants to make that modification.
Last November, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap told CNBC that when ChatGPT was launched in November 2022, the company had a limited amount of GPUs and capacity and mostly saw itself as a developer and business product builder.
Lightcap reminisced that Altman was a strong believer in “just trying it” when it came time to release their now-viral ChatGPT bot. Altman’s theory was that text-based engagement with the models had something significant and personal to offer.
It was a wise decision. According to OpenAI, ChatGPT surpassed all previous records for consumer apps in terms of growth rate. It currently boasts over 100 million active users every week and is used by over 92% of Fortune 500 firms.
Almost every employee at OpenAI resigned or threatened to resign after the board of directors removed Altman from his position in November, and investors, including Microsoft, were outraged.
When the week was over, Altman was right back at work. Ex-Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo are among the additional board members revealed by OpenAI since then. Microsoft is still planning to add more seats to the board, and they have gained a nonvoting observer post.
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