Microsoft pours more money into ChatGPT developer OpenAI

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 24 Jan 2023

Software giant Microsoft has announced a “multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, the start-up company that developed viral bot ChatGPT.

“Today we are announcing the third phase of our long-term partnership with OpenAI through a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment to accelerate AI [artificial intelligence] breakthroughs to ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world,” says Microsoft in a blog post.

The announcement comes after the tech giant last week said it will be laying off 10 000 workers, with chairman and CEO Satya Nadella saying: “…the next major wave of computing is being born with advances in AI, as we’re turning the world’s most advanced models into a new computing platform.”

Last week, Microsoft added ChatGPT to its Azure cloud service, as it looks to dominate the world of AI.

Of late, rumours were doing the rounds that Microsoft was looking to invest in OpenAI, whose early investors include South African-born Elon Musk and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, is a chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022.

It is built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3 family of large language models, and is fine-tuned with supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.

It has the ability to interact in conversational dialogue form and provide responses that can appear human.

The text-based chatbot can also draft prose, poetry or even computer code on command.

Since its release in November, the bot has gone viral. Social media has been abuzz with discussions around the possibilities and dangers of this new innovation, ranging from its ability to debug code, to its potential to write essays for college students.

Microsoft made an initial $1 billion investment in OpenAI in 2019 and later in 2021.

Says the company in its blog post: “This agreement follows our previous investments in 2019 and 2021. It extends our ongoing collaboration across AI supercomputing and research, and enables each of us to independently commercialise the resulting advanced AI technologies.”

The software maker says it will increase its investments in the development and deployment of specialised supercomputing systems to accelerate OpenAI’s groundbreaking independent AI research.

“We will also continue to build out Azure’s leading AI infrastructure to help customers build and deploy their AI applications on a global scale.”

Under the deal, Microsoft will also deploy OpenAI’s models across its products and introduce new categories of digital experiences built on OpenAI’s technology. This includes Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service, which empowers developers to build AI applications through direct access to OpenAI models backed by Azure’s capabilities and AI-optimised infrastructure and tools.

As OpenAI’s exclusive cloud provider, Microsoft adds that Azure will power all OpenAI workloads across research, products and API services.

“We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratise AI as a new technology platform,” says Nadella.

“In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organisations 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,” says Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI. “Microsoft shares our values and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone.”