Report: Altman Seeks Trillions for Computer Chip Endeavor

  • According to anonymous sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, OpenAI founder Sam Altman is talking to prospective investors, including the United Arab Emirates, about raising between $5T and $ 7T to fund a project to boost the world's computer chip manufacturing industry. wsj.com (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • One of the endeavor's main goals is to solve a shortage of chips known as graphics processing units (GPUs), which are used to build large language models (LLMs). To fix this, Altman wants to bring together investors, chip manufacturers, and energy providers. Tech Times
  • Several countries are currently trying to grow their presence in the semiconductor industry, which is currently dominated by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and California-based NVIDIA. Besides the UAE, Altman has reportedly held talks with TSMC executives, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and the head of Softbank. Al Jazeera (LR: 2 CP: 1)
  • According to the sources, Altman wants to put the investments, particularly from the Middle East, toward chip-fabrication companies like TSMC, which would build and operate dozens of factories. Microsoft, a partner of OpenAI, reportedly supports Altman's plans. wsj.com (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • The US, however, has been skeptical of foreign investors, such as the UAE-based company G42, having a hand in US chip supplies. US chip-making endeavors, such as TSMC's $40B project in Arizona, have also faced supply delays, a lack of skilled workers, and high costs. wsj.com (LR: 3 CP: 5)
  • Nvidia controls roughly 80% of the market, building the chips that power LLMs for OpenAI, Google, and Meta. Altman hopes to take his success with ChatGPT — which has over 100M weekly users and is used by 92% of Fortune 500 companies — to take some of Nvidia's business. CNBC (LR: 3 CP: 5)

Establishment-critical narrative:

  • Although the US government is currently pushing back against foreign investment — particularly in the Middle East due to its links to China — the truth is that investment powerhouses like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are going to enter the AI race with deep pockets. Despite the diplomatic uncertainty, American AI companies are already joining these ventures, from OpenAI and Nvidia to smaller ones like Blaize.
    FORBES (LR: 3 CP: 5)

Pro-establishment narrative:

  • The US government is pushing back for multiple reasons, primarily due to the risks they pose to national security. As China grows closer to Middle Eastern countries, it will likely gain access to US chip technology. Furthermore, these companies and venture firms, such as those founded by Altman, seem to be power-hungry to the point of recklessness. Washington is right to take a cautious approach, whether these ventures are profitable or not.
    BLOOMBERG (LR: 3 CP: 5)

Nerd narrative:

  • There's an 80% chance that there will be a Frontier AI lab — which trains models 10 times larger than the largest known model — in China before 2026, according to the Metaculus prediction community.
    METACULUS (LR: 3 CP: 3)
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