Microsoft on Monday announced to invest $1 billion in Artificial Intelligence (AI) start-up called OpenAI, a San Francisco-based non-profit research organization that counts Elon Musk as its founders.
Founded in 2015, by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Ilya Sutskever and Greg Brockmanaims, OpenAI aims to “freely collaborate” with other institutions and researchers by making human-friendly AI.
The two firms signed a multi-year partnership to jointly develop new supercomputing technologies on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.
“Microsoft Corp and OpenAI, two companies thinking deeply about the role of AI in the world and how to build secure, trustworthy and ethical AI to serve the public, have partnered to further extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems,” the company said in a statement.
The resulting enhancements to the Azure platform will also help developers build the next generation of AI applications, Microsoft said in a statement.
“By bringing together OpenAI’s breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI – while always keeping AI safety front and centre – so everyone can benefit,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.
With this investment, Microsoft will also become OpenAI’s preferred partner for commercialising new AI technologies.
It was in October 2015 when Elon Musk, along with Altman and other investors, announced the formation of OpenAI, pledging over US$1 billion to the venture.
Later in February of last year, Musk resigned his board seat, citing “a potential future conflict (of interest)” with Tesla AI development for self driving cars. He however remained a donor in AI.
In 2017, OpenAI made a surprising discovery stating that its neural network somehow trained itself and started analysing sentiment accurately by classifying the reviews on popular ecommerce site Amazon as either positive or negative. Not only this, it also generates follow on text that go in sync with the sentiment of the review.
OpenAI is producing a sequence of increasingly powerful AI technologies, which requires a lot of capital for computational power. The most obvious way to cover costs is to build a product, but that would mean changing our focus. Instead, we intend to license some of our pre-AGI technologies, with Microsoft becoming our preferred partner for commercializing them.
We believe that the creation of beneficial AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity. We have a hard technical path in front of us, requiring a unified software engineering and AI research effort of massive computational scale, but technical success alone is not enough. To accomplish our mission of ensuring that AGI (whether built by us or not) benefits all of humanity, we’ll need to ensure that AGI is deployed safely and securely; that society is well-prepared for its implications; and that its economic upside is widely shared. If we achieve this mission, we will have actualized Microsoft and OpenAI’s shared value of empowering everyone.