The World’s Dominant Crypto-Mining Company Wants to Own AI

Even by the standards of Bitcoin, things are crazy in China. As the boom in cryptocurrencies has become the biggest speculative bubble in recorded history, a single company in Beijing’s Haidian District has been selling the chips that generate as much as 80 percent of the world’s cryptocoins. “We feel lucky,” says Jihan Wu, the co-chief executive of Bitmain Technologies Ltd., which was more or less unknown two years ago and, according to Wu, booked revenue of $3.5 billion in 2017. Cryptocurrency networks run on number-crunching, electricity-hogging “mining” technology, and to play in that game with any seriousness, you pretty much need Bitmain’s chips. And because it’s China, the whole thing could fall apart at any minute.

Last year the government cracked down on cryptocurrency trading and banned initial coin offerings. This year it’s sent signals that it could seriously restrict mining. So even though Bitmain has succeeded far beyond Wu’s expectations, he’s already planning for the company’s next act: artificial intelligence. “As a China company,” says the taciturn 32-year-old, “we have to be prepared.”

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Charlotte Marek

Charlotte takes great interest in new technologies and the startup world and believes that with the right innovations we can change the world we live in for the best. She is also greatly interested in the publishing sector. She speaks French, English, Spanish, studies Italian and has had the opportunity to work in various countries over the last few years.