Microsoft invests $1 billion in OpenAI in new multiyear partnership

Microsoft is making a $1 billion bet on OpenAI, the company formed by notable founders including Elon Musk and Sam Altman three years ago with the aim of doing research and development work to steer the growth of artificial intelligence towards the ‘friendlier’ end of the spectrum, in order to help mitigate what Musk sees as a potential existential threat from AI if it isn’t developed responsibly while it grows in capability.

On Monday, Microsoft and OpenAI announced a multiyear “exclusive computing partnership” that will include the two companies building new AI supercomputing technologies for Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, and OpenAI will also port its existing services to work on Azure. Microsoft will also now be “OpenAI’s preferred partner” when it comes to the commercialization of new AI technologies it develops in future.

All the talk of ‘exclusivity’ and ‘preference’ in this announcement is particularly interesting because one of OpenAI’s founding principles was to “freely collaborate” among other AI researchers, and make both its work and patents available to others. But there are some caveats, including that there is OpenAI Inc. the non-profit organization, and its for-profit corporate subsidiary OpenAI LP, and that its current charter includes

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