Chip-maker Nvidia’s Chief Technology Officer, Michael Kagan, has criticized cryptocurrencies, stating that they add nothing useful to society. Despite selling its powerful processors in huge quantities to the crypto sector, Kagan believes that other uses of processing power, such as the development of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, are more worthwhile.
In 2021, Nvidia released software that artificially constrained the ability to use its graphics cards for mining the popular Ethereum cryptocurrency, in an effort to prioritize supply for its preferred customers, such as AI researchers and gamers.
Kagan stated that the decision was justified, as using processing power for mining cryptocurrencies has limited value. On the other hand, AI can have a much broader and useful impact on society. ChatGPT, for instance, is a chatbot that can be trained to perform different tasks by different users, making it a flexible tool for businesses and individuals alike.
While Kagan admits that the crypto industry did bring in significant business for his previous company Mellanox, which was later acquired by Nvidia, he believes that crypto is similar to high-frequency trading, an industry that has little societal value.
Kagan’s comments echo similar sentiments expressed by other tech industry leaders, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has criticized the high energy consumption of Bitcoin mining and suspended the use of Bitcoin as a form of payment for Tesla vehicles.
Overall, Kagan’s comments highlight the growing divide between the crypto industry and other tech sectors, such as AI and gaming, that are vying for the same processing power. As the debate over the usefulness of cryptocurrencies continues, it remains to be seen whether the industry can prove its value to society beyond its potential for speculative gain.