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Altman pinpoints chips as Korea's focus in talks with Yoon

By Hwang Joo-young

Published : June 9, 2023 - 18:50

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President Yoon Suk Yeol greets Open AI CEO Sam Altman at the presidential office in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol greets Open AI CEO Sam Altman at the presidential office in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Friday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol and OpenAI Chief Sam Altman engaged in an hour-long conversation at the presidential office in Seoul on Friday, discussing various aspects of artificial intelligence, including the trajectory of AI development, potential risks, solutions, and collaboration opportunities between the US firm and Korean startups.

"ChatGPT fever is spreading worldwide,” Yoon told Altman during the meeting, according to the written statement by Yoon’s office. "I tested ChatGPT by asking questions while writing a New Year's address, and the results were quite plausible."

According to a translated statement, Altman responded by saying that Korea not only ranks among the countries with the highest usage of ChatGPT globally, but also possesses a strong technological foundation for further development of ChatGPT.

He added Korean AI startups are well-positioned to actively participate in the international arena, equipped with strong competitiveness. Korea possesses numerous assets for AI development, including chip manufacturing capabilities, and its companies are demonstrating their competitiveness on a global scale, according to Altman.

When asked by Yoon about the specific field Korea should focus on, CEO Altman responded, "The semiconductor field." He elaborated that in the AI era, there will be a significant increase in demand for memory semiconductors due to the vast amount of data.

Altman added that OpenAI currently relies heavily on Taiwanese semiconductors. However, even if Taiwan continues to supply semiconductors, there is still a growing need for Korean chips to meet the increasing demand. As a result, many countries are eager to establish cooperation with Korea in this field, he said.

Yoon touched on the matter of establishing standards for new technologies.

"Because the speed of technological development is too fast, international standards to prevent side effects related to ChatGPT must be prepared with a sense of speed,” Yoon said.

Altman agreed and said it is important to prepare standards to reduce risks in society and ensure individual interests. He expressed his hope that Korea will play a leading role.

CEO Altman is currently on a global tour, engaging in meetings with political and business leaders from various countries, including the United Arab Emirates, India and South Korea. Earlier in the day, the 38-year-old American businessman attended a conference hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, where he expressed his interest in cooperating with and investing into South Korean startups.