Sam Altman Invests In Energy Start-Up Exowatt To Reduce AI's Massive Electricity Usage 

Altman and venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz are two of the investors who put $20 million in the start-up.
Sam Altman
Sam AltmanGetty Images

OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, has invested in energy start-up Exowatt, an energy start-up that aims to handle the massive use of electricity by artificial intelligence. Altman and venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz are two of the investors who put $20 million in the start-up. 

This was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Speaking to the Journal, Hannan Parvizian, Exowatt’s chief executive, said, “You don’t have to go back to fossil fuels to solve the data center energy problem... That’s counterproductive.” 

Also Read: Satya Nadella's Statement On OpenAI's Importance Ignites Debate on Social Media

Exowatt goes by the tagline’ Enabling decarbonization through electrification’. As the tagline says, Exowatt creates modular units that are the size of shipping containers and equipped with solar lenses. Following this, these lenses convert solar energy into heat, which is used to warm affordable materials. It can be stored for up to 24 hours. Later, solar energy is converted into electricity through an engine within the modules. 

With the focus on moving away from China, the company is prioritizing using US-made components for its modules. Altman is also backing nuclear start-up Oklo. Talking about the importance of AI and energy, in an earlier interview with CNBC, Altman said, "Fundamentally, today in the world, the two limiting commodities you see everywhere are intelligence, which we’re trying to work on with AI, and energy.” 

Similarly, as per Reuters, Altman said that for the future of artificial intelligence, energy breakthroughs are essential. Leaders across the world have talked about how much energy generative AI uses. According to the International Energy Agency, data centers account for 1 to 1.5 percent of global electricity usage. 

GPUs consume almost four times more power than the servers that are used in cloud applications. An article by Nature says, “Altman warned that the next wave of generative AI systems will consume vastly more power than expected and that energy systems will struggle to cope.” While it's hard to get the exact environmental damage that’s happening, it becomes pertinent to initiate the discussion to save energy. 

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