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A New Area of A.I. Booms, Even Amid the Tech Gloom


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Sam Altman, a founder and chairman of OpenAI, a lab that is popularizing generative artificial intelligence.

More than 450 start-ups are now working on generative A.I., by one venture capital firm’s count.

Credit: Mike Cohen/The New York Times

Five weeks ago, OpenAI, a San Francisco artificial intelligence lab, released ChatGPT, a chatbot that answers questions in clear, concise prose. The A.I.-powered tool immediately caused a sensation, with more than a million people using it to create everything from poetry to high school term papers to rewrites of Queen songs.

Now OpenAI is in the midst of a new gold rush.

The lab is in talks to complete a deal that would value it at around $29 billion, more than twice its valuation in 2021, two people with knowledge of the discussions said. The potential deal — where OpenAI would sell existing company shares in a so-called tender offer — could total $300 million, depending on how many employees agree to sell their stock, they said. The company is also in discussions with Microsoft — which invested $1 billion in it in 2019 — for additional funds, two people said.

The clamor around OpenAI shows that even in the most dismal tech downturn in a generation, Silicon Valley's deal-making machine is still kicking. After a humbling year that included mass layoffs and cuts, tech investors — a naturally optimistic bunch — can't wait to jump on a hot trend.

No area has created more excitement than generative artificial intelligence, the term for technology that can generate text, images, sounds and other media in response to short prompts. Investors, pundits and journalists have talked up artificial intelligence for years, but the new wave — the result of more than a decade of research — represents a more powerful and more mature breed of A.I.

From The New York Times
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