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The rise of AI giants (and their challengers)

The logo of OpenAI is seen displayed on a mobile phone screen with the Nvidia logo in the background.

The logo of OpenAI is seen displayed on a mobile phone screen with the Nvidia logo in the background.

Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/Sipa/via Reuters

Two winners have emerged from the AI boom’s first year, but others are in hot pursuit.

Within a few days of ChatGPT’s launch on Nov. 30, 2022, the chatbot attracted millions of users, proving that the world was ready for consumer-grade AI. This made OpenAI, the parent company, a clear victor on the software front. On the hardware front, NVIDIA grabbed the spotlight. The company’s graphics-processing chips have become the industry standard for fueling powerful AI models, making NVIDIA a trillion-dollar company this year.

Wannabe contenders, however, are trying to catch up.

Last week, Google launched Gemini, its much-anticipated new AI model, which it integrated into its Bard chatbot, boasting about “multimodal reasoning capabilities.” Google, already the industry leader in so many internet sectors — search, advertising, online video, and more — wants Gemini to challenge OpenAI’s large language model, GPT-4, on which ChatGPT is built.

Gemini, an umbrella for three models functioning at different levels, will also be added to Android mobile devices, the Google search engine, and Chrome. Google CEO Sundar Pichai told The New York Times that there’s room for more than one top AI company: “It’s so far from a zero-sum game.”

Meanwhile, US chipmaker AMD has NVIDIA in its crosshairs. Last week, AMD announced a new series of chips specifically for AI. The new chips, called MI300, are meant to rival NVIDIA’s H100 series. Microsoft plans to use the new AMD chips to power some of its Azure-branded cloud computing services, and Meta wants to use them for its data centers.

In these parallel races for AI domination, there’s only one sure winner: the United States. There are plenty of top tech companies competing for dominance of the buzziest industry of the moment, but so many of them — OpenAI, Google, NVIDIA, and AMD — are based in the US. As we chronicled last week, Washington stands to benefit in countless ways.


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