ChatGPT and generative AI are booming, but the costs can be extraordinary

chatgpt dangerous
chatgpt dangerous
  • The cost to develop and maintain the software can be extraordinarily high.
  • Nvidia makes most of the GPUs for the AI industry, and its primary data center workhorse chip costs $10,000.
  • Analysts and technologists estimate that the critical process of training a large language model such as GPT-3 could cost over $4 million.

Before OpenAI’s ChatGPT emerged and captured the world’s attention for its ability to create compelling sentences, a small startup called Latitude was wowing consumers with its AI Dungeon game that let them use artificial intelligence to create fantastical tales based on their prompts.

But as AI Dungeon became more popular, Latitude CEO Nick Walton recalled that the cost to maintain the text-based role-playing game began to skyrocket. AI Dungeon’s text-generation software was powered by the GPT language technology offered by the Microsoft-backed AI research lab OpenAI. The more people played AI Dungeon, the bigger the bill Latitude had to pay OpenAI.

Compounding the predicament was that Walton also discovered content marketers were using AI Dungeon to generate promotional copy, a use for AI Dungeon that his team never foresaw, but that ended up adding to the company’s AI bill.

At its peak in 2021, Walton estimates Latitude was spending nearly $200,000 a month on OpenAI’s so-called generative AI software and Amazon Web Services in order to keep up with the millions of user queries it needed to process each day.

“We joked that we had human employees and we had AI employees, and we spent about as much on each of them,” Walton said. “We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on AI and we are not a big startup, so it was a very massive cost.”