Microsoft Invests $1 Billion in OpenAI To Develop AI Technologies on Azure

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Microsoft today announced that it would invest $1 billion in OpenAI, the San Francisco-based AI research firm cofounded by CTO Greg Brockman, chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Elon Musk, and others, with backing from luminaries like LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and former Y Combinator president Sam Altman. From a report: In a blog post, Brockman said the investment will support the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) -- AI with the capacity to learn any intellectual task that a human can -- with "widely distributed" economic benefits. To this end, OpenAI intends to partner with Microsoft to jointly develop new AI technologies for the Seattle company's Azure cloud platform and will enter into an exclusivity agreement with Microsoft to "further extend" large-scale AI capabilities that "deliver on the promise of AGI." Additionally, OpenAI will license some of its technologies to Microsoft, which will commercialize them and sell them to as-yet-unnamed partners, and OpenAI will train and run AI models on Azure as it works to develop new supercomputing hardware while "adhering to principles on ethics and trust." According to Brockman, the partnership was motivated in part by OpenAI's continued pursuit of enormous computational power. Its researchers recently released analysis showing that from 2012 to 2018 the amount of compute used in the largest AI training runs grew by more than 300,000 times, with a 3.5-month doubling time, far exceeding the pace of Moore's Law. Perhaps exemplifying the trend is OpenAI's OpenAI Five, an AI system that squared off against professional players of the video game Dota 2 last summer. On Google's Cloud Platform -- in the course of training -- it played 180 years' worth of games every day on 256 Nvidia Tesla P100 graphics cards and 128,000 processor cores, up from 60,000 cores just a few years ago.

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