Sam Altman and OpenAI want to enter the infrastructure business. With his statement, the OpenAI CEO confirms the rumors of the last months.
The world needs “more AI infrastructure”, including more fab capacity, energy, and data centers than are currently planned, Altman writes on X.
Building this massive infrastructure and a resilient supply chain is critical to economic competitiveness, and OpenAI aims to help, he said.
The Wall Street Journal also confirms earlier rumors that Altman is also in talks with the government of the United Arab Emirates.
There is talk of raising five to seven trillion US dollars. According to the WSJ, this would be many times the size of today’s chip industry, which is expected to generate $1 trillion in annual revenue by 2030.
Altman envisions a partnership between OpenAI, investors, chipmakers, and utilities to build chip fabs operated by existing chipmakers, with OpenAI as a key customer. However, the initiative still faces many obstacles, particularly in coordinating the complex network of funders, industry partners, and governments.
Altman’s vision is to raise money from Middle Eastern investors and hire TSMC to build and operate the chip factories, preferably in the US. However, the U.S. government has concerns about putting the strategic chip supply under foreign control or giving Abu Dhabi too much power in the AI market, the WSJ reports.
To realize his ambitions, Altman would need the support of the U.S. government, for which the semiconductor industry is a strategic priority. Altman is said to have already met with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to discuss the initiative.
Others involved include Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, and representatives of chip manufacturers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC).
An OpenAI spokeswoman said that OpenAI is having productive discussions about expanding global infrastructure and supply chains for chips, energy, and data centers and that OpenAI will keep the U.S. government informed as this is relevant to national priorities. Details will be announced at a later date.
AI consumes a lot of energy
Sam Altman’s fundraising plans also address the enormous energy consumption of AI infrastructure. According to Altman, the development of general artificial intelligence (AGI) will require large amounts of energy, necessitating a breakthrough in energy production.
He sees fusion energy, particularly nuclear fusion, as a possible solution, despite current skepticism. Altman suspects that the hype around AI could increase investment in new energy sources. His long-term goal is to reduce the cost of energy and intelligence to near zero.