Microsoft earmarks $10 billion for AI as it lays off thousands


Microsoft is making a US$10-billion investment over several years in OpenAI less than a week after announcing it is  laying off 10,000 workers because of dwindling software demand due to weakening economies.   

Microsoft noted in that announcement that it will still invest and hire in key priority areas, OpenAI, the pioneering artificial intelligence research lab behind ChatGPT and Dall-E, being one of those.

The software maker reports second quarter earnings on Tuesday. While Microsoft didn’t disclose the value of its investment on Monday, a person familiar with the discussions said it totals $10-billion over multiple years.

The investment from Microsoft “will allow us to continue our independent research and develop AI that is increasingly safe, useful and powerful”, OpenAI said in a statement.

Microsoft, which ploughed $1 billion into OpenAI in 2019, is seeking an inside edge on some of the most popular and advanced artificial intelligence systems as it competes with Alphabet, and Meta Platforms to dominate the fast-growing industry. OpenAI needs Microsoft’s funding and cloud computing power to crunch massive volumes of data and run the increasingly complex models that allow Dall-E to generate realistic images based on a handful of words, and ChatGPT to create astonishingly human-like conversational text in response to prompts or queries.

ChatGPT has lit up the iIternet since its introduction in late November, gathering a million users in less than a week. Its ability to imitate the way real people talk and write has sparked concern about its potential to supplant professional writers and do students’ homework for them. The tool has also been called a potential threat to Google’s core search business.


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