- REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
- Microsoft announced Monday that it will partner with artificial intelligence research company OpenAI, which was founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Y Combinator chairman Sam Altman, to build AI technology for Microsoft Azure.
- OpenAI’s services will run exclusively on Microsoft’s cloud.
- This technology can be used to address issues in climate change, healthcare, education, and other big problems.
- The ultimate goal: Build Artificial General Intelligence, the kind of human-like AI that you find in sci-fi movies and TV shows.
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On Monday, Microsoft announced it is expanding its partnership with artificial intelligence research company OpenAI to build supercomputing AI technology for its cloud. That partnership is both technological and financial, with Microsoft investing $1 billion in OpenAI.
OpenAI was originally launched by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Y Combinator chairman Sam Altman, Stripe’s former CTO Greg Brockman, and former Google research scientist Ilya Sutskever in December 2015, with a $1 billion endowment from tech all-stars. Musk co-founded OpenAI partly because he was concerned about the potential dangers of AI, having described it as “summoning a demon” – though he’s since left, citing a conflict of interest with Tesla’s budding AI business.
Since it was founded in 2015, OpenAI has created technology that helps computers understand language, train robots that can do tasks like housework, and even beat humans in the computer game “Dota 2.” Earlier this year, OpenAI brought Altman on full-time as its CEO, around the same time that it moved away from being a non-profit.
Its expanded partnership with Microsoft has a few parts to it, according to the press release. OpenAI will move to use the Microsoft Azure cloud exclusively for developing and running its software, and the two will work together on building new AI systems. Microsoft will also be OpenAI’s “preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies,” likely meaning that OpenAI software will carry integrations with the Azure cloud.
More broadly, though, the press release indicates that the two companies carry a shared vision around Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), the kind of human-like AI you see in movies and TV shows, capable of actual learning and understanding.
“OpenAI and Microsoft’s vision is for Artificial General Intelligence to work with people to help solve currently intractable multi-disciplinary problems, including global challenges such as climate change, more personalized healthcare and education,” says the press release.
Microsoft first partnered with OpenAI in 2016. OpenAI used Microsoft’s cloud as its preferred cloud, while Microsoft got increased access to OpenAI’s technology and experts.
Within the company, Microsoft has been investing in more AI technology for its cloud. Already, companies like Walmart are using Microsoft’s AI technology to improve its business. And in November, Microsoft announced it would acquire XOXCO, a software product design and development studio that is known for creating AI bots.
“AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world’s most pressing challenges,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella 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 center – so everyone can benefit.”