Microsoft confirms 'multiyear, multibillion dollar investment' in the maker of ChatGPT and DALL-E

Microsoft and OpenAI logos
(Image credit: NurPhoto (Getty Images))

Confirming a rumor that surfaced earlier this month, Microsoft has announced a "multiyear, multibillion dollar investment" with ChatGPT developer OpenAI which it says will help accelerate breakthroughs in artificial intelligence development and "ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world."

Two of OpenAI's creations have been at the forefront of major tech news in recent months: ChatGPT, a chatbot convincing enough that the New York City Department of Education banned it from school networks and devices, and DALL-E, a powerful image creation program that's fuelling some man-vs-machine controversy of its own. Microsoft has played a role in enabling both of those technologies, with previous investments into OpenAI in 2019 and 2021.

Microsoft also said it will increase its investment in "specialized supercomputing systems" to help accelerate OpenAI's research, and will deploy OpenAI's models "across our consumer and enterprise products," including its Azure OpenAI Service, which helps other developers create their own AI applications.

"We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. "In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications."

"The past three years of our partnership have been great," OpenAI.CEO Sam Altman said. "Microsoft shares our values and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone."

In a separate statement announcing the latest investment, OpenAI said that it remains a "capped-profit company," which places a limit on the return investors in the company can earn and puts any excess into the OpenAI Non-Profit—essentially reinvesting into the company and its work. 

"This structure allows us to raise the capital we need to fulfill our mission without sacrificing our core beliefs about broadly sharing benefits and the need to prioritize safety," OpenAI said.

I've seen too many dystopian sci-fi flicks to be fully confident in the idea of 'safe' AI development (and the increasingly apparent human cost of machine learning isn't improving my outlook on that front), but I can certainly understand why Microsoft wants to have a hand in it. The company is reportedly looking to incorporate ChatGPT technology into its Bing search engine in order to provide more human-like responses to search queries rather than just lists of links, which is one way it might distinguish itself from Google.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.