Microsoft’s Looking to Invest $10 Billion into Rising AI Start-up OpenAI

Whether you like them, hate them, or are freaked out by the possibilities, AI content creation tools are here to stay, and are likely to become a more mainstream element in many common tools – potentially a lot faster than you might think.

Today, Semafor has reported that Microsoft is finalizing a deal to invest $10 billion into OpenAI, the maker of DALL-E and ChatGPT, two of the most buzzy AI tools currently available to the public.

DALL E and ChatGPT

Microsoft has already invested $1 billion into OpenAI, as part of the company’s initial funding round back in 2019, and now, the software giant is looking to take a significant ownership stake.

That could see these tools integrated into Microsoft’s 365 suite of products, or even LinkedIn, while Microsoft has also been exploring ways to integrate ChatGPT into Bing, its search engine, which could spark a new battle for AI integration into Search tools.

Google, for its part, has said that it won’t be looking to integrate AI tools into its search systems at this stage, due to the potential for errors in the produced results. But if Microsoft were to reinvigorate Bing via the additional of these conversational prompts, and take a share of attention away from Google in this respect, that could force Google’s hand, and spark a more rapid shift towards conversational AI as a search option.

Either way, a significant investment from Microsoft would be a massive boost for OpenAI’s ambitions. The company, at some stage, will also need to monetize its tools, in order to fund its operations, but an integration with Microsoft would change its direction in this respect, and could see these tools become far more commonplace, in far more apps and tools, very quickly.

Under the terms of the arrangement, Microsoft would will reportedly get a 75% share of OpenAI’s profits until it makes back the money on its investment, after which Microsoft would then assume a 49% stake in OpenAI. The deal would value OpenAI at $29 billion.

It’s a significant endorsement of the potential of AI tools, which are already becoming a valuable facilitator of many simple tasks, and creation processes for many users.

At the same time, there are concerns around how AI outputs can and should be used, including whether AI-created visuals violate artist copyright, and whether Google will even recognize ChatGPT-originated works in its search engine.

Chinese regulators have taken their first stab at implementing guidelines for AI use, which include provisions that restrict the use of AI tools to spread ‘fake news’, and rules that will require the providers of such technologies to ensure visible labeling of AI-generated content to avoid confusion.

China’s also calling on the creators of these tools to include ‘digital watermarks’ within any AI outputs to optimize detection, which could see the usage of such limited, at least as a wholesale replacement for human-generated work.

Which is likely a good thing. AI tools like this should really only be used as complementary processes, in order to streamline your productivity – they shouldn’t be relied upon as content creators in isolation, at least in most cases.

But you can already see this happening. Websites looking to shave costs are going to pump our SEO-optimized ChatGPT text, which they can then upload in the hopes of maximizing traffic.

Those outputs are generally pretty bland, so the reputational risk, in itself, will be significant enough to limit at least some of this use. But a lot of businesses won’t care – which is why Google’s trying to get ahead of this wave by reminding businesses that AI-generated content is against its guidelines, even if it is very human-like.

Yet, even with these concerns, you can see the potential, as a supplementary use case. There are various ways in which you can use AI tools that can simplify and improve many processes, and you can already see how ChatGPT, for example, can exceed Google search in some respects.

It seems inevitable that Google will eventually incorporate similar, and if Microsoft takes that first big leap, we could see this evolve very fast.

AI tools are not here to replace you, but they can be hugely valuable additions to your process. And if this deal goes through, a lot more people will be aware of how, very soon.

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