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Sam Altman Fuels Future AI, Invests $375M in Helion’s Fusion Energy

AI OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is championing fusion energy as a pivotal solution for the future of artificial intelligence (AI), having invested a substantial $375 million in a fusion energy company in 2021. Altman, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, emphasized the necessity of breakthroughs in energy to meet the colossal power demands
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is championing fusion energy as a pivotal solution for the future of artificial intelligence (AI), having invested a substantial $375 million in a fusion energy company in 2021. Altman, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, emphasized the necessity of breakthroughs in energy to meet the colossal power demands of future AI advancements.

The development of large-language AI models (LLMs), exemplified by OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Anthropic’s Claude, currently relies on the extensive use of tens of thousands of graphical processing units (GPUs), akin to those found in gaming PCs. The energy requirements for training these models are notably high, and even post-training, these LLMs continue to consume significant resources.

Altman, along with experts in the field, foresees a need for revolutionary changes in how we train and operate large AI models, or alternatively, the imperative to discover more sustainable energy sources beyond the capabilities of current technologies. This realization propels Altman to invest further in fusion energy.

Fusion, a concept rooted in the fusion of atoms to generate energy, traces back to the discovery of plasma in 1879 by British chemist Sir William Crookes. The challenge lies in making fusion reactors produce more energy than they consume. If successful, fusion holds the promise of being a zero-carbon solution for scaling power grids.

Altman’s personal investment of $375 million in the fusion startup Helion in 2021 underscores his commitment to this vision. While Helion initially aimed to have a functional fusion reactor prototype generating positive energy by 2024, the current status of this projection remains uncertain. Altman’s significant investment in Helion marked a milestone, representing the majority of the company’s $500 million total fundraise.

The intersection of AI and fusion energy reflects a forward-looking perspective, acknowledging the interdependence of technological advancements and sustainable energy solutions.

Wasif Shakir

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