With last week’s major news, we had learnt that in an attempt to extend its partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft acquired an exclusive license to GPT-3. Although the company hasn’t stopped the API access of the model to other users, it indeed provided the access of its underlying codes and mechanism to Microsoft. This would allow the company to leverage the state-of-the-art technical innovations of OpenAI to create advanced products for its customers.
This outlandish indeed would provide an edge to Microsoft over its competitors in the market like IBM, Google, AWS, etc. Not only can it make them lead the AI war, but it can also help in modifying its offerings like Office 365, Bing, as well as Cortana to bring in more customers. In fact, this would also enable OpenAI to make a commercial profit out of the massive investment it has done to create a product like GPT-3. Further would also allow the company to improve the model, based on the interaction it will have with a massive user base of Microsoft.
Although the industry is going gaga over the announcement, the deal has undergone a massive dejection from many experts. Considering that launching GPT-3 was an act to ensure “artificial general intelligence to benefit everyone”, providing elite licensing to Microsoft raised significant concerns among the industry.
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GPT-3 — A Harbinger Of Doom
Being the massive model in the world, GPT-3 comes with immense possibilities of AI applications with its extraordinary capabilities of creating human-like written text. In the recent news, The Guardian wrote an article using this language model, where it showcased its prodigious ability to somewhat come up with a coherent essay about artificial intelligence. It had also proved its competencies when a college kid created a fake blog using GPT-3, making people believe that humans wrote it. Such applications highlight that GPT-3 has immense possibilities if applied for logical applications.
However, giving exclusive access to Microsoft can create severe ramifications and potential concerns for the industry. Once the announcement was out, even Elon Musk, one of the OpenAI founders, tweeted its criticism on the openness of the company. Following the Microsoft news, this tweet showcases Musk’s disapproval of the deal.
With OpenAI’s initial launch, the company was established as a non-profit organisation to use AI for augmenting humanity as a whole, but with Microsoft leveraging it for its products, which hasn’t been explained well, it will just be profitable for the tech giant. And that’s why Musk critically disregarded this move as it contradicts the company’s vision of “build value for everyone rather than shareholders.”
In fact, in 2018, Musk moved out of the company due to some corporate conflicts, and with the OpenAI’s recent move, Musk would be pleased with his decision. Joining Musk, there are many experts on Twitter, who have shown their disapproval of this deal, and OpenAI’s vision statement.
On a similar note, Karen Hao of MIT Technology Review has also scrutinised the move. She wrote — while the non-profit organisation “was supposed to benefit humanity,” it is currently helping only the tech giant. With the company starting to commercialise its products, it clearly draws attention to the profitable interest that OpenAI has with GPT-3. Not only is it a money-making process for the large tech companies but can also manipulate and shape the AI industry as a whole.
While Microsoft stated that this queer deal would democratise AI and promote AI at scale, It didn’t shed much light on how much exclusivity this deal provides. Thus it would be difficult to establish how Microsoft is going to empower users and businesses with its AI platform. But it indeed can be confirmed that the company will leverage GPT-3 for improving its search engine along with its other products like MS Teams and Office 365 to bring in more customers — surpassing Google and Apple.
Additionally, such an exclusive deal can create many problems — starting from ownership of data to influencing the product plan to protect their own interest. It is also expected that, in future, Microsoft might dictate the pricing plan of the API, to dominate its competitors in creating advanced products using the technology. And with Microsoft making profits for OpenAI, it will force the company to be more dependent on Microsoft’s lead.
GPT-3 and its evolution has critically been scrutinised in many instances. However, being a novel technology with no prior reference point, it indeed would have been a challenging task for OpenAI to find the right target audience to commercialise the product. Thus, licensing Microsoft, who had been a long-standing partner with Open AI, was a right move for the company.
Despite the disconcert this move has brought in the industry, with this deal, Microsoft will be able to introduce some real-world applications of the extraordinary model. Further, it would also benefit Microsoft users who will be able to utilise its GPT-3 capabilities, free of cost. With that being said, this deal changes the entire ball game for companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, as well as Alibaba, Baidu etc. who have been spearheading the AI war.