Microsoft, OpenAI Team Up for Next-Generation AI Development

Microsoft in July announced that it was investing $1 billion into artificial intelligence (AI) research lab OpenAI, as part of a partnership to accelerate development of advanced AI solutions and services. In return, Microsoft will become the exclusive provider of cloud computing infrastructure for OpenAI, and its "preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies," Microsoft said in a statement announcing the deal.

The partnership aims to accelerate AI development, and to help OpenAI achieve its goal of enabling artificial general intelligence (AGI) -- an advanced form of AI that exhibits the capacity to master intellectual tasks without formalized training, much the way a human being might.

Greg Brockman, co-founder and chief technical officers at OpenAI, wrote in a blog post announcing the partnership that OpenAI would develop cloud platforms and solutions for Microsoft Azure.

"We're partnering to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI," Brockman wrote. "We'll jointly develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become our exclusive cloud provider -- so we'll be working hard together to further extend Microsoft Azure's capabilities in large-scale AI systems."

The effort aims to break a key bottleneck of AI systems -- their inability to excel at tasks for which they've not been specifically and formally trained. The goal is to tackle the most complex challenges, which require generalization and deep mastery of multiple AI technologies, Microsoft said in its statement.

"OpenAI and Microsoft's vision is for artificial general intelligence to work with people to help solve currently intractable multidisciplinary problems, including global challenges such as climate change, more personalized healthcare and education," Microsoft wrote.

A Question of Trust

In the joint announcement, both Microsoft and OpenAI emphasized the importance of promoting advanced AI services and solutions that are "secure, trustworthy and ethical." Sam Altman, chief executive officer of OpenAI, said the stakes are uniquely high as advanced AI solutions emerge.

"The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity," Altman said in a statement. "We believe it's crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed."

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft, in his statement echoed Altman's outlook.

"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," he said. "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."

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.