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AI-focussed Nvidia slams crypto as ‘not useful’

Graphics powerhouse Nvidia has underscored its strange relationship with blockchain tech after its chief technology officer slammed crypto in an interview.

Nvidia CTO Michael Kagan told The Guardian that he “never believed that [crypto] is something that will do something good for humanity”, and that crypto does not “bring anything useful for society”.

The statements are at odds with the millions in revenue Nvidia has derived from crypto over the past few years. Crypto miners have purchased tens of thousands of Nvidia graphics processing units (GPUs) to run the computationally intensive calculations required to mine new currency and validate transactions on proof-of-work networks like Bitcoin.

Nvidia has been equivocal at best about this line of business: being a company primarily aimed at servicing the gaming market, it attempted to restrict the usefulness of its GPUs to miners during the worldwide covid-induced chip-shortage.

Last year it also ran foul of the US SEC by not sufficiently disclosing how important crypto mining had been to its business back in 2018. It paid $5.5m in fines for breach of the disclosure requirements of a publicly traded company.

Crypto fuelled boom

Nvidia’s stock price has soared on the back of the crypto boom, then the covid gaming boom and now the AI boom, each area having a special demand for computationally intensive hardware. For most of the company’s long history (formed 1993, publicly listed 1999), its stock price sat under $10. In 2017 it took off and as of time of writing is $265.

While CTO Kagan – the Israel-based former founder of networking tech company Mellanox – disparaged crypto in the Guardian interview, he praised AI.

The message was in line with Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s address at a company summit last week, where he portrayed Nvidia as the driving force behind an AI revolution.

“The warp drive engine is accelerated computing, and the energy source is AI,” Huang said.

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Polemos staff

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