Microsoft announced on Monday a MULTI-billion dollar investment in OpenAI and a multi-year partnership to develop artificial intelligence supercomputing technologies on the Azure cloud computing service.
OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a non-profit organization with a total of USD 1 billion in funding from Silicon Valley investors Sam Altman, Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, among others. Earlier this year, the group created a related for-profit entity to accommodate external investment.
Since its founding, OpenAI has employed artificial intelligence researchers to make progress in the field, such as teaching a robotic hand to perform completely software-like tasks,reducing costs and time to train robots.
The group also focused on the security and social implications of artificial intelligence, researching how computers can generate realistic news with little more than suggestions and warning researchers to consider how their work and algorithms may be misused by bad actors before publishing them.
OpenAI said Microsoft's investment would help it pursue "artificial general intelligence" or AGI. An AGI would mean that the computer system is able to master a matter even or better than the best humans in the world - and master more fields than any single human.
"We believe it is critical that AGI is implemented safely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed," Altman said in a statement. "We are thrilled with how deeply Microsoft views this vision."
The future of artificial intelligence
Microsoft said the two companies will jointly develop new artificial intelligence technologies on Azure's cloud computing service. The two also stated that OpenAI would move many, but not all, of its services to Azure and that Microsoft would be its "preferred" partner to market new services.
Earlier this year, OpenAI set up a for-profit company to re-invest outside. The for-profit entity is ultimately controlled by the non-profit board of directors.
When OpenAI created the facility in March, it said that investors who invested money in the for-profit entity would have a limit on their returns and that the nonprofit's mission would take precedence over making a profit.
The two companies also declined to say whether Microsoft's investment would be made in cash or whether it would involve credits for Azure's cloud computing service.
Cloud computing services are a significant cost to OpenAI, which spent a total of 7.9 million dollars on cloud computing in fiscal 2017, or about a quarter of its total functional expenses for that year, according to documents filed with the Revenue Service United States.