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OpenAI to ‘hopefully’ partner with Samsung and SK, CEO Sam Altman says

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OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, far right, answers questions from Korean startups at the company's San Francisco, California headquarters on Thursday. [MINISTRY OF SMES AND STARTUPS]
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, far right, answers questions from Korean startups at the company’s San Francisco, California headquarters on Thursday. [MINISTRY OF SMES AND STARTUPS]

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman views Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK hynix as important partners in his efforts to solidify his own AI chip ecosystem and pull away from Nvidia.

Altman referred the two Korean chipmakers as “fantastic” and said they would “hopefully” collaborate with OpenAI at a meetup with Korean startups at the company’s San Francisco, California headquarters on Thursday.

The 38-year-old entrepreneur previously visited Korea in June 2023 and in January 2024.

During the highly veiled January visit, Altman toured Samsung Electronics’ chip manufacturing plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi and met with SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won for a possible partnership.

Altman is known to be pooling massive funds for his own AI chip manufacturing ecosystem in hopes of relieving his company’s reliance on Nvidia, which currently dominates the sector.

His plan is said to include raising up to $7 trillion won.

Potential investors reportedly include Abu Dhabi-based investment company MGX and state-backed tech firm G42, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Japanese firm SoftBank among others.

At the Thursday meetup, Altman said OpenAI’s ultimate goal is to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI), an advanced form of AI that can reason and learn as a human can. Whether with a partner or independently, Altman said he will find the quickest way to achieve the technology — and will decide whether to establish a separate AI chip team based on that outcome.

Altman added that he’s quite invested in the “scientific discovery” that AGI will accelerate, as he believes it to be the only “genuine driver” of long-term economic growth.

The launch date of GPT-5 — successor to the company’s AI language model GPT-4 — is yet to be decided, according to Altman, but it will have upgraded general cognitive ability compared to its predecessor.

Meanwhile, OpenAI recognized a total of 10 out of 14 Korean startups that attended its K-Startup & OpenAI Matching Day in San Francisco, organized by Korea’s Ministry of SMEs and Startups, during which the fledgling firms presented their business models and visions to the U.S. organization’s executives.

The selected startups will receive up to maximum of 200 million won from the ministry and will be able to access various AI services as well as consulting and mentoring from OpenAI.

Altman made a surprise 10-minute appearance at the end of the event during which he answered questions from startup CEOs, according to local reports.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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