Jony Ive and OpenAI's Sam Altman Might Team Up on AI Hardware: Report

Jony Ive and Sam Altman
(Image credit: Getty Images, Shutterstock)

The CEO of OpenAI (the company behind ChatGPT), Sam Altman, and former Apple design lead Jony Ive have been having conversations about creating hardware for artificial intelligence, according to a report from The Information.

The story, which cites two anonymous sources, claims that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has also been involved in the talks, but it is "unclear if he will remain involved." Ive, Open AI, and SoftBank didn't immediately respond to the publication's request for comment. There's also no word on whether OpenAI would build this device, if it would be farmed out to another company, or if it will ever come to pass.

There aren't any details on what such hardware would look like or what it would do. When most people think of AI hardware, it's either in the form of neural processing units on chips in phones or computers on the consumer side, or Nvidia's H100 high-end compute GPU — which has been selling like hotcakes to enterprise customers getting into the AI game.

With Ive involved, one would expect a consumer device — but it's unclear what modern AI hardware looks like, considering how much it's associated with cloud computing. Building an AI device that people welcome into their homes could further entrench OpenAI as a leader in the space.

Altman already has interest in one hardware company: the startup Humane, which was founded by two former Apple employees. Humane is working on an AI wearable meant to replace smartphones.

Son's potential involvement isn't shocking. SoftBank's Vision Fund is designed around picking the next big tech companies and ideas, and is likely sitting on some cash following Arm's IPO. Son's got money to throw around if he wants to make more of it.

Ive left Apple in 2019 to start his own design venture, LoveFrom, which has developed projects ranging from its own font to a limited edition turntable.

Altman is also working on another project with a former Apple employee — Thomas Meyerhoffer, a protégé of Ive's. Meyerhoffer designed the Orb, the hardware component of Altman's Worldcoin, which is building a financial network around human identities.

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon

  • bit_user
    Upon reading the headline, I was sort of expecting they might be using AI to design hardware. Not like CPUs, but more like cases, accessories, non-computer stuff, etc.
  • SSGBryan
    Calling it now.

    It will be thin, have thermal issues, and look like a Dieter Rams knock-off.
  • DSzymborski
    SSGBryan said:
    Calling it now.

    It will be thin, have thermal issues, and look like a Dieter Rams knock-off.