OpenAI’s Sam Altman seeking trillions to fund chips for AI, report says

Altman has discussed ‘wildly ambitious’ plans with investors, including the United Arab Emirates government, the WSJ says.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman [File: Markus Schreiber/AP]

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is seeking to raise trillions of dollars from investors, including the United Arab Emirates government, to boost the world’s capacity to produce advanced chips and power artificial intelligence, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

Altman’s “wildly ambitious tech initiative” could require raising as much as $7 trillion, the WSJ reported on Thursday, quoting people familiar with the matter.

As part of his pitch to investors, Altman has proposed building dozens of chip foundries that would then be run by existing chip makers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the Journal said.

The plans aim to solve obstacles to OpenAI’s growth, including a scarcity of chips that power AI models such as ChatGPT, according to the WSJ, which described the sums being sought as “outlandishly large by the standards of corporate fundraising”.

Altamn’s plans have so far seen him hold meetings with senior UAE officials, TSMC executives, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and SoftBank’s chief executive Masayoshi Son, according to the report.

While numerous countries have announced plans to support domestic semiconductor production, global supply is still dominated by a handful of firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and California-based NVIDIA.

An OpenAI spokesperson was quoted by the WSJ as saying it has had “productive discussions about increasing global infrastructure and supply chains” and would share more details at a later date.

OpenAI, which is backed by Microsoft, did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment from Al Jazeera.

At the helm of OpenAI, Altman has risen to become one of the most recognisable faces in the burgeoning field of AI.

In November, the 38-year-old entrepreneur was fired from the start-up he co-founded, only to be reinstated several days later after protests by employees and investors.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies