Nvidia slams cryptocurrency as useless to society

Nvidia's chief technology officer has called cryptocurrency useless to society, even though the company financially benefits from its products being used to support it.
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Technology company Nvidia has slammed cryptocurrency in a recent interview with the Guardian, with chief technology officer Michael Kagan saying crypto doesn’t ‘bring anything useful to society.’

The United States-based chip-making company’s processors, which are geared to gamers, infamously also found popularity amongst crypto miners due to their processing power. Kagan says despite Nvidia’s sales success in the sector, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to ‘redirect the company to support whatever it is.’

‘I never believed that [crypto] is something that will do something good for humanity. AI does.’

Kagan says he believes the processing power of the company’s cards would be put to better use developing and running AI technologies like ChatGPT, as opposed to crypto mining which he likens to high-frequency trading, an industry that his former company Mellanox struck gold in prior to being acquired by Nvidia in 2020. ‘With ChatGPT, everybody can now create his own machine, his own program: 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’.’

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Nvidia’s praise of ChatGPT should come as no surprise, given the first version of the AI was trained on a supercomputer built with 10,000 Nvidia graphics cards.

The technology company has previously taken steps to try and limit the use of their products for crypto mining, despite the volume of sales from the sector. Nvidia announced the release of a number of new graphics cards with limited hash rates (Lite Hash Rate) to discourage the mass-purchasing of the graphics cards by miners in May 2021. In a blog post at the time, the company said the move would ‘help get GeForce GPUs in the hands of gamers.’

Unfortunately, the attempt to dissuade miners was rendered almost obsolete due to a developer driver version that contained code to circumvent the limiter on the RTX 3060 released shortly after launch. The limiter has since been removed given the lack of success.

Read: Apple tightens rules for apps with NFTs and crypto

Nvidia is one of many companies trying to distance itself from cryptocurrency and seems poised to do so by jumping all-in on AI technology and development. Jensen Huang, the company’s CEO, said that AI would ‘reinvent nearly every industry’ at the annual Nvidia conference, likely powered by the company’s cards. The shift is a timely move, given the collapse of the cryptocurrency market as companies begin to lay off staff and cut costs to try to survive the downturn.

Whether or not Nvidia’s involvement in the growing use of AI continues is yet to be seen, but Kagan’s comments are sure to further dissuade crypto miners from the company’s products.

Emily Spindler-Carruthers is a journalist interested in writing about diversity and accessibility in gaming, and the ways in which video games can impact communities. You can find her @Sagef0xx on Twitter.