Microsoft and Elon Musk’s OpenAI are teaming up to improve the way AI works and use to solve real-world problems. Microsoft has agreed to invest $1 billion in a partnership with the research group OpenAI.
OpenAI said the investment would go towards its efforts of building artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can rival and surpass the cognitive capabilities of humans.
This partnership will aim to get computers to learn new skills and complete varied tasks like humans can. That’s a contrast to existing A.I, which can learn specific jobs, such as understanding images and patterns but can’t tackle different problems on its own.
“The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.
“Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we’re working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we’ll build AGI.”
The two tech firm is going to create a new Azure supercomputing tech in the AI field. Microsoft is going to be OpenAI’s exclusive cloud computing partner.
The companies said that they will build a hardware and software platform of “unprecedented scale” within Microsoft’s cloud service provider Azure that will train and run increasingly advanced AI models.
“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,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in the statement.
“Modern AI systems work well for the specific problem on which they’ve been trained, but getting AI systems to help address some of the hardest problems facing the world today will require generalization and deep mastery of multiple AI technologies,” the companies wrote in a press release announcing the partnership.
OpenAI said Microsoft was also going to be its preferred commercialization partner, rather than making its own product. The company also said it was licensing some of its “pre-AGI technologies.” The two companies are collaborating on “shared principles on ethics and trust,” according to the release.
Other OpenAI investors include the charitable foundation of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. Other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who started OpenAI include Hoffman and Altman, co-founder and former president of startup incubator Y Combinator.
OpenAI, co-founded in 2015 by Musk and other prominent Silicon Valley investors, focuses mainly on artificial general intelligence, which could perform any tasks that humans are capable of, different from existing AI that can do only what people trained them for.
The startup has already achieved a number of AI milestones, most notably beating the world’s best human players at the video game Dota 2, but hopes its technology can one day help address climate change and other major challenges facing the planet.
Microsoft also recently announced a partnership with AT&T that would let the communications giant use Microsoft’s Azure cloud system for its computing purposes.
At&T will also be able to use Microsoft 365 for its workers. Under the terms of the deal, the two companies will collaborate on what’s called edge computing, which means that Microsoft technology will be incorporated in AT&T’s forthcoming 5G network.
They will collaborate on speeding up data passage for certain applications, like air traffic for drones. Microsoft will become AT&T’s “preferred” cloud company, and the move will help it gain ground on rivals like Amazon, which is currently the largest cloud provider.
Customers of cloud services run software managed by the providers, in data centers. John Donovan, chief executive of AT&T Communications, said the deal represents a total shift in how the company used to operate, and that it will be “public cloud-first,” and rely on data centers to power the business.
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