Michael Kagan, its chief technology officer, said other uses of processing power, such as the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT were more worthwhile than mining crypto.
To be fair, Nvidia was never a big fan of cryptocurrency. It even released software that artificially borked its graphics cards from being used to mine the popular Ethereum cryptocurrency to ensure supply went to its preferred customers instead.
Kagan said the decision was justified because of the limited value of using processing power to mine cryptocurrencies. While he didn’t use the word “Ponzi scheme”, it was pretty much what he was implying. The first version ChatGPT was trained on a supercomputer with about 10,000 Nvidia graphics cards and was a more noble endeavour – even if it might ultimately bring civilisation to an end.
“All this crypto stuff, it needed parallel processing, and [Nvidia] is the best, so people just programmed it to use for this purpose. They bought a lot of stuff, and then eventually it collapsed, because it doesn’t bring anything useful for society. AI does,” Kagan told the Guardian.
“With ChatGPT, everybody can now create his own machine, his own programme: you just tell it what to do, and it will. And if it doesn’t work the way you want it to, you tell it ‘I want something different’.”
Ironically Kagan founded an outfit called Mellanox which was propped by crypto until it was bought by Nvidia.
“We were heavily involved in also trading: people on Wall Street were buying our stuff to save a few nanoseconds on the wire, the banks were doing crazy things like pulling the fibres under the Hudson taut to make them a little bit shorter, to save a few nanoseconds between their datacentre and the stock exchange,” he said.
“I never believed that [crypto] is something that will do something good for humanity. You know, people do crazy things, but they buy your stuff, you sell them stuff. But you don’t redirect the company to support whatever it is.”