In a recent development reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Sam Altman, the head of OpenAI, is spearheading an ambitious effort to secure trillions of dollars in funding to revolutionize the worldwide semiconductor industry. Altman has initiated talks with potential investors, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government, to address critical challenges faced by the rapidly expanding artificial intelligence sector. These challenges include the shortage of advanced computer chips essential for driving large-language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
The current semiconductor landscape is dominated by a few key players, most notably Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and the U.S.-based NVIDIA.
While various countries have announced initiatives to strengthen local chip production, the financial commitments they’ve made pale in comparison to the substantial amounts Altman is reportedly negotiating with investors.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the estimated cost to realize Altman’s vision could soar up to $7 trillion, surpassing the combined market value of the world’s two largest publicly traded companies, Apple and Microsoft, by approximately one trillion dollars. An OpenAI spokesperson confirmed the company’s involvement in “productive discussions about increasing global infrastructure and supply chains for chips, energy, and data centers.” The spokesperson also emphasized OpenAI’s commitment to keeping the U.S. government informed due to the project’s significance to national objectives.
Altman has reportedly met with senior officials from the UAE, SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son, and representatives from TSMC. Altman’s recent discussions have also been covered by Bloomberg and the Financial Times.
The Wall Street Journal reveals that Altman has proposed the construction of multiple chip-fabrication facilities in the coming years, utilizing funds from Middle Eastern investors. He suggested that TSMC could be contracted to build and manage these plants.
Following the widely publicized launch of ChatGPT, Altman’s profile has experienced fluctuations. In November, he faced a temporary dismissal from OpenAI, only to be reinstated a few days later amidst opposition from staff and investors.