Del Complex, a secretive self-described AI research company, has proposed militarized solar-powered barges, loaded with GPUs, that could move AI training into international waters, as a way to avoid AI regulations following from President Biden's recent executive order and this week's AI Safety Summit in the UK.

The bizarre proposal emerged in a tweet this week accompanied with pictures and diagrams of the BlueSea Frontier Compute Cluster (BSFCC), described as a "sovereign nation-state for innovation and acceleration."

Each vessel would hold more than 10,000 Nvidia H100 GPUs, to perform AI calculations at sea, "free from regulatory oversight," and guarded by a private army recruited from regular military forces.

BlueSeaBargeAbove_web_logo cropped
– Del Complex

"The rapid pace of artificial intelligence has led to hastily drafted government regulation," says the Del Complex site. "Foreseeing this inevitability, Del Complex has engineered a solution ready to set sail. The BlueSea Frontier Compute Cluster (BSFCC)—a groundbreaking venture in international waters, melding cutting-edge technology with unparalleled autonomy."

The post received plenty of attention, and people like legendary games technologist John Carmack pitched in to kick the tires of the concept, picking at issues such as the cost and power demands.

The barge's claimed Nvidia 10,000 DGX H100s would cost around $300 million, and would need around 100MW of power, which is far more than could be provided by solar power from a barge that size.

Later posts to X/Twitter explained the vessels would harness the "intrinsic cooling capabilities of ocean current" alongside energy storage solutions as well as two gas turbines and one SST-600 steam turbine in a combined cycle power plant.

The story was covered at length by Tom's Hardware, but Vice's Motherboard got to the bottom of it, picking up clues that revealed the project may be a kind of satire, created by artist and programmer Sterling Crispin, a producer of NFTs.

The proposal looked odd from the start. Del Complex claims to operate from underground bunkers in Nevada, where it says it is working on brain-computer interfaces that integrate artificial general intelligence (AGI) directly to the brain. Its product sales page lists merch including hats and shirts alongside pallets of GPUS (which have sold out).

The Del Complex site includes a page of disturbing "archival media" images.

Tipped off by Del Complex's self-description as an "alternate reality corporation," Vice's Motherboard contacted Crispin, who promoted Del Complex this week with a tweet announcing he had been employed by the company for six months,

Motherboard sent questions about the nature of the project, and Crispin responded as a Del Complex researcher: “One of the major problems with Biden's executive order and other recent regulations, is that they're too heavily focused on the training layer and hardware, rather than the application layer. Consider that today's supercomputer is tomorrow's pocket watch. And government regulation tends to lag behind the times, not keep ahead of it.”

The most real part of the project seems to be a "hiring campaign" run on LinkedIn and from the Del Complex site. In the first "onboarding" step, applicants are instructed to agree to commit to a cult-like corporate culture, agreeing that "This is more than a job, it's who I am," and committing to silence about the company's projects and promising to watch team members for "signs of disloyalty."

The Del Complex site hosts a PDF document which summarizes the views of applicants to work at the company, most of whom would be happy to work on AI-weapons systems, or on AIs that could overrule humans.

Contacted by DCD, Crispin said: "The careers transparency report is all real data from real applicants for a job posted on LinkedIn about 5 months ago. Del Complex is an 'alternate reality corporation' but its got feet in both worlds."

Following the Motherboard article, Crispin has tweeted to clear up "misinformation":

"Del Complex is a legally recognized corporation. I work there full-time as a researcher. I don't deal in satire. If you know me, you know I'm a sincere person with intense conviction.

"Del Complex produces tangible, digital, intangible, rhizomatic, and hyperstitional products. Del Complex is self described as an alternate reality corporation. It's your role to navigate that and the nature of their products.

DCD rang the phone number on the Del Complex site to enquire about work, but got no answer.