25 07

By Nadia Zaifulizan

A few days ago, Microsoft announced its $1 billion investment for OpenAI.
If you are not yet in the loop, OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence research company, founded by Elon Musk. It was established to advance digital intelligence in ways that are most likely beneficial for humanity as a whole. In this case, their focus is ensuring the creation and adoption of safe and beneficial Artificial General Intelligence, AGI.
Receiving funding and donations from multiple industry players including Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Elon Musk, Amazon Web Services, Infosys and YC Research, OpenAI has pledged to research, code, publish, patent-share and deploy new technologies for the good of humanity.

About 4 months ago, OpenAI announced that it created a new unit, its “capped-profit” company, OpenAI LP. This was done as an effort to gather investments for better cloud computing capacity, maintaining its talent source, and building its AI supercomputers. Through OpenAI LP, investors and employees are able to receive capped returns / profits, and the rest goes directly to the initial non-profit OpenAI entity for its projects.

So what does Microsoft’s $1 billion investment mean?

Microsoft’s $1 billion investment will provide the capital and foundation needed by OpenAI to accelerate its beneficial AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) mission. OpenAI’s expertise and services will benefit Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems. This means, that Microsoft and OpenAI will build together the new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, and use it to create new AI technologies.
This include building a massive-scale computational platform in Azure which will train and run advanced AI models while using Microsoft’s hardware, and create advancements of safe, secure, trustworthy AI implementation.

OpenAI’s mission is creating a beneficial AGI. It believes that working with Microsoft is needed in order to build the supercomputing foundation which will be used to build the said AGI.
But Microsoft owns the platform as well as the resulting large-scale AI system coming from this project. Therefore critics believe that Microsoft has the upper hand, whether it chooses to profit from the created technology (through sale, distribution, or licensing), or it takes a more virtuous open-source route for the technology created. Furthermore, the implications of a corporate entity having complete control over an advanced AI supercomputing technology produced by the best minds in AI, is rather daunting. Almost like an advanced case of monopoly.

Since the joint work is a multi-year deal, Microsoft’s funding will come gradually with time. But even if Microsoft forks out a billion dollars in the span of a decade for OpenAI’s expertise, OpenAI will eventually have to pay for the computing power it will require as its mission reaches the next level of progress. In the mean time, we can only wait with bated breath what the outcome will mean for the rest of us AI enthusiasts and users alike.

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