Artificial intelligence (AI) tools continue to make an impact across every sector of the economy. Arguably no one creates better ones than OpenAI. Recently, the firm granted Microsoft an exclusive license to its groundbreaking GPT-3 text generation model.
Touted as the most sophisticated model of its kind, GPT-3 is able to automatically generate text that mimics human speech. This is Microsoft’s second major deal of the week—coming just one day after its $7.5 billion purchase of Bethesda—that will have far-reaching implications.
By acquiring an exclusive license to OpenAI’s GPT-3 model, Microsoft is effectively putting itself several steps ahead of the competition. The deal shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise given the history of the two companies.
OpenAI has an ongoing contract with Microsoft for Azure cloud computing resources. The firm uses Azure to train many of its models. Last year, Microsoft made a $1 billion investment to become OpenAI’s exclusive cloud provider.
The GPT-3 deal strengthens the ties between these two firms at the perfect time since the AI space is on the verge of a massive boom.
GPT-3 was released by OpenAI back in July. It is the third iteration of the language model and the most powerful one yet. The company said in a blog post, “Unlike most AI systems which are designed for one use-case, OpenAI’s API today provides a general-purpose ‘text in, text out’ interface, allowing users to try it on virtually any English language task. GPT-3 is the most powerful model behind the API today, with 175 billion parameters.”
Speaking of the partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft says, “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale.”
The Fine Print
How an exclusive licensing deal democratizes AI technology remains unclear. However, OpenAI notes that “the deal has no impact on continued access to the GPT-3 model through OpenAI’s API.”
In other words, both existing and future users will continue to have access to the model. At first glance, that makes it seem like Microsoft didn’t actually get anything out of the deal. After all, what’s exclusive about an API that anyone can use?
A spokesperson from the company cleared things up by saying that Microsoft’s license gives it access to GPT-3’s underlying code and the technical advancements contained therein. Microsoft will likely try to integrate these features into its various products. It’s easy to imagine GPT-3 being useful inside software like Office and Edge.
Although other companies will be able to keep using GPT-3, Microsoft has a distinct advantage since it can actually work with the model’s AI advancements rather than just the final product.
The partnership goes to show that Microsoft believes in the future of OpenAI and wants to be the first to capitalize on its achievements. Keep an eye on this development to see how the Big Tech firm utilizes its new AI resources.