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OpenAI CEO Altman says at Davos future AI depends on energy breakthrough

FILE PHOTO: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman attends PEC Summit in San Francisco

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) -OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman on Tuesday said an energy breakthrough is necessary for future artificial intelligence, which will consume vastly more power than people have expected.

Speaking at a Bloomberg event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Altman said the silver lining is that more climate-friendly sources of energy, particularly nuclear fusion or cheaper solar power and storage, are the way forward for AI.

"There's no way to get there without a breakthrough," he said. "It motivates us to go invest more in fusion."

In 2021, Altman personally provided $375 million to private U.S. nuclear fusion company Helion Energy, which since has signed a deal to provide energy to Microsoft in future years. Microsoft is OpenAI's biggest financial backer and provides it computing resources for AI.

Altman said he wished the world would embrace nuclear fission as an energy source as well.

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Davos, Switzerland; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)