Microsoft is investing $ 1 billion in OpenAI, a San Francisco-based research lab founded by Silicon Valley personalities, including Elon Musk and Sam Altman, who is dedicated to creating a General Artificial Intelligence (AGI).
This investment will make Microsoft the “exclusive” provider of cloud computing services to OpenAI, and the two companies will collaborate on the development of new technologies. OpenAI will also grant Microsoft a license to commercialize some of its technologies, although in this case the technology involved remains to be clarified.
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|CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (right). Photo credit: Microsoft|
OpenAI started as a nonprofit research laboratory in 2015 and was intended to match the advanced R & D of companies such as Google and Amazon, while focusing on the development of AI in a safe and secure manner. democratic. But earlier this year, OpenAI said it needed more money to continue its work and create a new for-profit company to seek outside investment.
To attract donors, OpenAI has made outrageous promises about the potential of its technology. Altman, who became CEO of the new for-profit OpenAI, said that if the lab managed to create a general artificial intelligence, it could “maybe capture the cone of light from all the future value of the universe.”
In order to limit investor greed, OpenAI operates as a capped profit entity, which means that anyone who invests can only expect a return 100 times their investment. This does not offer “all the future value” of the universe, but it is not a pocket change either. The exact terms agreed between Microsoft and OpenAI for this $ 1 billion investment are unclear.
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI (left), with Satya Nadella (right), CEO of Microsoft. Photo: Microsoft
Altman’s confidence in OpenAI comes from his confidence in AGI. For decades it has been the holy grail of the field of artificial intelligence. It is an AI system that is as flexible and intelligent as humans.
At present, researchers are capable of creating superhuman artificial intelligence software in certain areas, such as playing certain board games or analyzing medical analyzes, but these systems can not transfer this skill from one task to another. another. As Yann LeCun, director of Facebook AI, says: “In terms of general intelligence, we can not even build something as smart as a rat.
The time when researchers could create AGI – and if it is even possible – is a hot topic of debate in the community. In a recent survey of some of the leading experts in the field, it was estimated on average that there was a 50% chance of creating an AGI by 2099.
To date, OpenAI has certainly impressed the world of AI with its research. He has set new benchmarks for robot dexterity; his game robots crushed the human champions at Dota 2; and he has crafted remarkably flexible text-generation systems that can write everything from convincing lyrics to fake news articles to news.
But none of these projects is like the huge, radical change involved in jumping into AGI. In the meantime, other researchers have lamented the hyperbole of OpenAI and wondered if its shift to for-profit research undermined its claims to the “democratization” of AI.
In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the partnership would keep “artificial intelligence security” so that “everyone can benefit”.
“The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in the history of humanity, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said Altman. “Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity. We are collaborating with Microsoft to set up the supercomputing foundation on which we will build AGI. “