MICROSOFT IS BETTING BIG on artificial intelligence (AI) with a $1bn investment in OpenAI, the ethical not-for-profit research company co-founded by Elon Musk.
In exchange for its mega-mulla, Microsoft will become the cloud computing provider for OpenAI and launch a series of co-projects.
It's a relief for OpenAI, which was running out of money to continue its work, as well as Musk himself. The current CEO is fellow Silicon Valley stalwart Sam Altman, founder of Y Combinator.
OpenAI was set up to ensure that research into artificial intelligence is conducted ethically, and as a not-for-profit, limits the appeal for those seeing it as a cash-cow, which may further compromise those ethics. Profits for investors are currently capped at 100x their stake, which is enough to be attractive, but not enough to attract unscrupulous investors.
OpenAI's ultimate goal is AGL - the idea of a machine that can think like a human, but that's still a long way off - remember right now, Amazon, for example, still assumes if you've bought a garden shed, you'll respond to adverts for more sheds for the next six months.
Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has said that the money would help keep "AI safety front and centre".
Altman added: "Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we're working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we'll build AGI."
However, neither are likely to see their efforts come to fruition. It's currently estimated that the odds of creating AGI by the end of the century are 50-50.
That's not to say that the company won't continue to make significant strides on the journey to full AI. It has already created a neural network that outplays champions of Dota 2, invented a fake news generator that is so believable it has had to be locked away, lest it gets into the wrong hands (cough… Fleet Street). μ
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