Confirming a rumor (opens in new tab) that surfaced earlier this month, Microsoft has announced a “multiyear, multibillion dollar investment (opens in new tab)” with ChatGPT developer OpenAI which it says will help accelerate breakthroughs in artificial intelligence development and “ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world.”
Two of OpenAI’s creations have been at the forefront of major tech news in recent months: ChatGPT, a chatbot convincing enough that the New York City Department of Education banned it from school networks (opens in new tab) and devices, and DALL-E (opens in new tab), a powerful image creation program that’s fuelling some man-vs-machine controversy (opens in new tab) of its own. Microsoft has played a role in enabling both of those technologies, with previous investments into OpenAI in 2019 and 2021.
Microsoft also said it will increase its investment in “specialized supercomputing systems” to help accelerate OpenAI’s research, and will deploy OpenAI’s models “across our consumer and enterprise products,” including its Azure OpenAI Service, which helps other developers create their own AI applications.
“We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”
“The past three years of our partnership have been great,” OpenAI.CEO Sam Altman said. “Microsoft shares our values and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone.”
We are happy to announce the next phase of our partnership with Microsoft: https://t.co/mqx3ZJNGfLJanuary 23, 2023
In a separate statement (opens in new tab) announcing the latest investment, OpenAI said that it remains a “capped-profit company (opens in new tab),” which places a limit on the return investors in the company can earn and puts any excess into the OpenAI Non-Profit—essentially reinvesting into the company and its work.
“This structure allows us to raise the capital we need to fulfill our mission without sacrificing our core beliefs about broadly sharing benefits and the need to prioritize safety,” OpenAI said.
I’ve seen too many dystopian sci-fi flicks to be fully confident in the idea of ‘safe’ AI development (and the increasingly apparent human cost of machine learning (opens in new tab) isn’t improving my outlook on that front), but I can certainly understand why Microsoft wants to have a hand in it. The company is reportedly looking to incorporate ChatGPT technology into its Bing search engine (opens in new tab) in order to provide more human-like responses to search queries rather than just lists of links, which is one way it might distinguish itself from Google.