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Microsoft and OpenAI extend partnership to ‘democratize AI’

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By Webb Wright | Reporter

January 23, 2023 | 4 min read

The latest phase in the collaboration between the two brands will aim in part to develop supercomputing systems and integrate OpenAI’s models – including ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 – into Microsoft consumer and enterprise products.

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Microsoft is a major investor in the AI research company OpenAI. / Adobe Stock

Microsoft and OpenAI are entering a new phase of their joint mission to bring advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to the masses.

In a blog post published this morning, Microsoft announced the third iteration of its partnership with San Francisco-based AI research company OpenAI – creator of the uber-popular generative AI platforms ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 – centered on “a multiyear, multibillion dollar investment to accelerate AI breakthroughs to ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world.”

Generative AI, and especially ChatGPT (an AI model that creates copy from text-based prompts) has recently washed across the marketing industry in spectacular fashion. The sophistication of the new technology, compounded by the rapid improvement it's expected to undergo in the coming years, has led some marketing experts to predict that it will utterly and irrevocably transform the roles, companies and industries that hinge on creative production – including, and perhaps especially, advertising.

Microsoft first joined forces with OpenAI as an investor in 2019, and followed up with another injection of capital in 2021.

This latest phase in the partnership between the two tech brands will be aimed at supporting “the development and deployment of specialized supercomputing systems,” integrating “OpenAI’s models across [Microsoft’s] consumer and enterprise products” (notably, Azure OpenAI Service, which enables access to Open AI’s application programming interface via Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform), and establishing Microsoft Azure as OpenAI’s exclusive cloud services provider.

“We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”

At its 2020 Build conference, Microsoft unveiled what was then one of the world’s top five supercomputers. That supercomputer, which operated in Azure, was built in collaboration with OpenAI and “was designed specifically to train that company’s AI models,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post at the time. Since then, the tech company has continued to invest in and innovate supercomputer systems.

“OpenAI has used this infrastructure to train its breakthrough models, which are now deployed in Azure to power category-defining AI products like GitHub Copilot, DALL·E 2 and ChatGPT,” Microsoft wrote in this morning’s blog post.

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