OpenAI CEO highlights South Korean chips sector for AI growth, investment

Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on June 9 and urged South Korea to play a leading role in manufacturing the chips needed for artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Altman also expressed an interest in investing in Korean startups and collaborating with bigger chipmakers like Samsung Electronics. 

According to local news media, the CEO suggested South Korea should focus on chips — as both system semiconductors and memory chips are needed for AI — and reduce corporate regulations to foster AI projects and work toward setting international standards.

Altman, who recently embarked on a journey across Europe to engage with policymakers and leaders to discuss the potential and challenges of AI, has now extended his travels to include Israel, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, India and South Korea.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol shake hands at the Yongsan District, central Seoul presidential office on June 9.

During a conference in Seoul, Altman expressed his intention to expand investment in Korean startups, stating, “We are actively exploring avenues to increase our investment in Korean startups.“

When questioned about potential collaborations with Korean chip manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, Altman confirmed ongoing discussions and expressed his willingness to engage further in the dialogue. According to Nikkei Asia, Korea’s Samsung Electronics accounts for more than 40% of the dynamic random access memory chip sector.

Altman explained that AI relies on transferring large volumes of data, leading to an increased demand for memory chips. He further mentioned that OpenAI currently utilizes chips from Taiwan, but added that there will be a need for a supply of chips from Korea in the future.

The swift advancement and widespread adoption of generative AI — following the launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI with support from Microsoft — is prompting lawmakers worldwide to create regulations addressing the safety implications associated with the technology.

The European Union is progressing with its draft Artificial Intelligence Act, expected to be enacted this year, while lawmakers in the United States have proposed two new bipartisan bills targeting issues of transparency and innovation in AI.

Related: AI could threaten humanity in 2 years, warns UK AI task force adviser

Altman expressed his admiration for how Koreans embraced and experimented with ChatGPT upon its release, stating that Korea was among the earliest adopters of the service and exhibited remarkable creativity in its usage.

The CEO shared that OpenAI is actively involved in the process of establishing an office in Japan. Additionally, he said it would consider opening more offices worldwide as part of future plans.

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