Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman at the Microsoft campus at 1 Microsoft Way Redmond, Wash. on July 15, 2019. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

We have seen over the last month that Microsoft is strengthening its relationship with OpenAI, building on its years-long partnership. The company is looking to invest $10 billion into the AI development group, while also adopting the GPT-AI across services. In the latest move, Microsoft says it will integrate the new and controversial ChatGPT chatbot into Azure OpenAI.

The company went right to the top to make this announcement, with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealing the integration. This comes alongside the general availability of Azure OpenAI. While ChatGPT is not available in the service yet, it will be soon.

Azure OpenAI has been in preview since it was first announced at Ignite 2021. It is available as an Azure Cognitive Service, adding, OpenAI GPT-3 security, compliance, reliability, models, and other enterprise abilities.

Microsoft’s jounrey with OpenAI is extensive, including the 2021 launch of a Power Fx ability for translating natural language queries into code. This was the first time Microsoft used GPT-3 following entering an exclusive license of the API with OpenAI.

OpenAI services such as DALL-E2, Codex, and GPT-3.5 are now available on the cloud for Azure customers. The ChatGPT chatbot will soon be added to that collection.

ChatGPT and Ethics

ChatGPT is an OpenAI project that is built on top of the GPT-3 autocomplete text generator. A demo of the chatbot was released in late November and is available from OpenAI here (log in required). ChatGPT can provide accurate answers to trivia questions, while also being able to generate AI content such as poems and songs.

Another feature of the AI is the ability to help debug code, which could make it an ideal companion for GitHub Copilot. However, there have been plenty of reports that ChatGPT often gives wrong answers that look correct. This confusion led to Stack Overflow temporarily banning the chatbot last month.

ChatGPT and other recent AI developments have raised questions about the future of AI development. Microsoft is working on folding ChatGPT into Bing, but how will the company overcome inaccurate responses on the search engine? Microsoft’s new VALL-E AI has the ability to accurately reproduce human speech, and even mimic it.

Rapid progress of AI could be dangerous. Many observers feel development of AI models is progressing faster than the ethical boundaries we put around them. Microsoft insists its use of OpenAI technology will fit within current regulatory frameworks:

“We have taken an iterative approach to large models, working closely with our partner OpenAI and our customers to carefully assess use cases, learn, and address potential risks. Additionally, we’ve implemented our own guardrails for Azure OpenAI Service that align with our Responsible AI principles.

“As part of our Limited Access Framework, developers are required to apply for access, describing their intended use case or application before they are given access to the service. Content filters uniquely designed to catch abusive, hateful, and offensive content constantly monitor the input provided to the service as well as the generated content. In the event of a confirmed policy violation, we may ask the developer to take immediate action to prevent further abuse.

“We are confident in the quality of the AI models we are using and offering customers today, and we strongly believe they will empower businesses and people to innovate in entirely new and exciting ways.”

Going Big

Regardless of ethical concerns and Microsoft’s commitments, the company is going full steam ahead with AI. Earlier this month, the company’s product chief Panos Panay announced Windows 11 and eventually Windows 12 will come to use AI heavily.

Microsoft-AI-Breakthrough-Timeline

Still, it is with OpenAI where Microsoft is really putting its focus. So much so, OpenAI is increasingly feeling like a Microsoft division and not the independent group it actually is. As well as embracing ChatGPT in Azure and Bing, the company is also integrating the GPT API into its Office apps (Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint).

The company became a $1 billion investor in the AI research group in 2019, allowing Azure to power all cloud services from the open-source organization. Microsoft also has an exclusive license of the GPT-3 API.

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