Microsoft and OpenAI enter third phase of AI partnership

Following two previous investments in ChatGPT developer OpenAI in 2019 and 2021, the funding will go towards accelerating development of AI computing at scale, as well as deployment of AI capabilities across consumer and enterprise products.

In addition, Microsoft Azure is ready to power all workloads of OpenAI research, product and API service as its exclusive cloud provider.

Microsoft began working with OpenAI in 2016, with the goal of transforming its Azure cloud environment into an “AI supercomputer for the world.”

To date, notable developments overseen by the partnership have included the construction of top five publicly disclosed supercomputers in 2020, and the agreement to embed ChatGPT into the Bing search engine.

OpenAI has used Azure to power many of its AI offerings, including ChatGPT, DALL·E 2, and GitHub Copilot.

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The research aspect of the extended agreement, meanwhile, included the construction and advancement of a framework for the safe deployment of AI, with OpenAI’s AI Alignment studies and Microsoft’s Responsible AI Standard in mind.

“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,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.

“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.”

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, commented: The past three years of our partnership have been great. Microsoft shares our values ​​and we are excited to continue our independent research and work to create advanced AI that benefits everyone.”

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Computing power versus accessibility

While AI products powered by an established cloud environment like Azure is key to scaling capabilities, it can be argued that the exclusivity agreed in the agreement with OpenAI can bring vendor lock-in, which can stop flexibility for end users who want to innovate.

While referring to the work done between Microsoft and OpenAI as “the fastest industrial revolution in history”, Marshall Choy, senior vice president, product at SambaNova Systems, warned: “Microsoft’s decision to make Azure the exclusive cloud provider for OpenAI workloads does limit accessibility.

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“For AI to reach its revolutionary potential, companies require flexibility in how they adopt and deploy it. That said, this innovation will affect us all – any software you open on your computer now will be changed by generative AI forever.

“The next challenge is to take generative AI and produce it in enterprise environments.”


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