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25th July 2019

Microsoft to invest $1 billion in OpenAI

A multi-year partnership, which includes an investment of $1 billion from Microsoft, will focus on building a platform that OpenAI can use to create new AI technologies and accelerate progress towards Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).


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Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI, two companies thinking deeply about the role of AI in the world and how to build secure, trustworthy and ethical AI, are collaborating to further extend the capabilities of large-scale AI systems. Through this partnership, they will accelerate breakthroughs in technology and drive OpenAI's efforts to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI). So-called AGI is a higher level of AI that can reason, act and think like a human, which today's "narrow" AI is unable to do.

The companies will work jointly to build new AI supercomputing technologies for deployment on Microsoft's Azure networks. The resulting enhancements to these cloud computing platforms will also help developers to create the next generation of AI applications. As part of the collaboration, OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft will become OpenAI's preferred partner for commercialising new AI technologies.

The companies will focus on building a computational platform in Azure of "unprecedented scale", which will train and run increasingly advanced AI models and include hardware technologies that build on Microsoft's supercomputing technology, while adhering to the two companies' shared principles on ethics and trust. This will create the foundation for advancements in AI to be implemented in a safe, secure and trustworthy way and is a critical reason the companies chose to partner together.

Over the past decade, innovations in deep neural networks coupled with exponentially increasing computational power have led to continuous breakthroughs in areas such as vision, speech, language processing, translation, robotic control and even gaming. Modern AI systems work well for the specific problem on which they are trained – but getting AI to help address some of the hardest problems facing the world today requires a more generalised approach. 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, personalised healthcare and education.

"The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the future trajectory of humanity," said Sam Altman, CEO, OpenAI. "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. We believe it's crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed. We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision."

"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," said Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella. "By bringing together OpenAI's breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratise AI – while always keeping safety front and centre – so everyone can benefit."

In addition to Mr. Altman, the founders of OpenAI include Elon Musk, who has repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by out-of-control AI. Established in December 2015, the San Francisco-based organisation aims to "freely collaborate" with other institutions and researchers by making its patents and work open to the public. The OpenAI Charter describes the principles that guide it as it executes on this mission.


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