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Harmony In The Tech Universe: OpenAI, Altman, And Microsoft's Mega Alliance Spell The End Of Ordinary Innovation!
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Harmony In The Tech Universe: OpenAI, Altman, And Microsoft’s Mega Alliance Spell The End Of Ordinary Innovation!

November 24, 2023

Microsoft had the opportunity for the tech deal of a lifetime with OpenAI, but what they walked away with is beyond your wildest expectations!

In the rich history of the tech industry, a handful of extraordinary deals have left an indelible mark on its landscape. In 2006, Google made a pivotal move by acquiring the start-up YouTube for $US1.65 billion. Fast forward to today, and the platform effortlessly recoups that investment in just three weeks through its robust advertising revenue. Similarly, in 2012, Facebook acquired the 13-employee start-up Instagram for $US1 billion, a figure now surpassed by the platform’s weekly Instagram income, showcasing the monumental growth and profitability of these strategic investments. 

This week marked a historic opportunity for Microsoft to secure the most unprecedented bargain in the tech industry—an acquisition that could redefine the future of artificial intelligence. The sought-after prize was none other than OpenAI, the driving force behind ChatGPT, and astonishingly, the price tag was set at a mere $0.

The proposed accomplishment had the effectiveness of solidifying Microsoft’s leadership in ushering the new era of reproductive AI into concern applications. Microsoft had already taken meaningful strides by establishing key partnerships to provide the basis for OpenAI’s basic ChatGPT AI system. Moreover, Microsoft strategically integrated this transcription across a spectrum of its parcel offerings, amplifying its commercial artistry and food influence.

Take Microsoft’s Outlook email users, for example—they can seamlessly inquire about the emails they should prioritise, receiving prompt responses from Copilot, a chatbot leveraging the same AI model as ChatGPT. Notably, Copilot extends its work beyond email, playing an important role in Microsoft’s estimator credentials software. This right tool was actively integrated as well as offering period concentrate to fronting credentials analysts in managing and mitigating cyber threats.

Acquiring the core of OpenAI at no cost could have been a strategic move to address the looming uncertainty surrounding Microsoft’s comprehensive integration of OpenAI’s software. It raises a crucial question: What safeguards would be in place if the partnership were to face challenges or dissolution, mitigating potential risks associated with Microsoft’s wholehearted incorporation of OpenAI’s technology?

Surprisingly, Microsoft opted out of the deal, choosing not to seize the opportunity. Depending on the unfolding negotiations in the days and weeks ahead, it appears that Microsoft may end up securing an even more favorable arrangement.

When OpenAI’s board surprisingly ousted CEO Sam Altman last Friday (Saturday AEDT), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella extended an offer to establish a new business within Microsoft. This proposed entity, akin to its semi-autonomous LinkedIn and GitHub divisions, would have accommodated Altman, OpenAI’s CTO Mira Murati, President Greg Brockman, and nearly all their OpenAI colleagues who either resigned or contemplated doing so.

The only expense for Microsoft would have been salaries. Despite Altman famously forgoing a wage, senior engineers at OpenAI earn around $900,000 ($1.4 million) annually. Nevertheless, the combined salary expenditure would have been significantly more economical than a direct acquisition of the $90 billion startup.

Purchasing OpenAI was not a viable choice for the software giant.

After India’s defeat to Australia in the cricket World Cup, Nadella, a passionate Indian and cricket enthusiast, likened the idea of Microsoft acquiring the not-for-profit company OpenAI to Microsoft buying the entire nation of Australia.

“None of this can be accomplished,” he said.

Acquiring just the team, particularly in the case of OpenAI (though probably not Australia), seemed plausible, especially after Altman agreed on Sunday evening to lead the new Microsoft venture.

When nearly all of the company’s employees signed a letter the following day, expressing their potential intention to resign from OpenAI and join the newly unveiled Microsoft subsidiary, the prospect of Microsoft acquiring the OpenAI team shifted from being feasible to downright probable.

It was on the verge of becoming not only the most cost-efficient but also one of the most meaningful acquisitions in the chronicle of technology. This move would have catapulted Microsoft far ahead of rivals like Google, Meta, and Amazon in the competitor race to demonstrate the near-limitless effectiveness of stirred intelligence.

Indeed, subsequent reports suggest that the rift between Altman and the OpenAI board was triggered by a significant breakthrough made by OpenAI engineers in the field of AI. This breakthrough had the potential to propel the company toward achieving the elusive goal of “artificial general intelligence” (AGI), where AI can reason at least as effectively as humans, moving beyond the current capabilities of generative AI systems that simply mimic human speech.

There’s a prevalent belief that the advancement of AGI could either serve as a crucial tool to rescue humanity from catastrophes like climate change or, conversely, become a potentially disastrous mistake that might usher in humanity’s downfall.

It would be the greatest heist of all time to be able to provide an OpenAI team with the knowledge of how to construct artificial general intelligence (AGI) for no money at all, plus pay.

However, it turned out that Nadella himself was one of the elements that was preventing this bargain-basement acquisition from happening. Nadella had stated on multiple occasions that he was not seeking to get any freebies out of the OpenAI implosion.

As events transpired this week, it became evident that the Microsoft CEO had carefully evaluated the situation, concluding that a fully operational OpenAI, led by his ally Sam Altman and governed by a more agreeable board, held greater value for Microsoft than a significantly depleted version. This assessment held true even if the core components of the AI company had been integrated into Microsoft.

Reports indicated that Nadella played a pivotal role in rallying other shareholders to compel the OpenAI board to reverse Altman’s dismissal, leading to a surprising turn of events where the board rescinded Altman’s termination and, astonishingly, decided to step down itself.

Altman himself underscored the substantial influence Microsoft had on his reinstatement, delivering a late-night statement on Tuesday to make it explicitly clear.

Expressing anticipation for the future, Altman stated on Microsoft’s official website, ‘With the new board and Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.

While the specific composition of the new board is yet to be finalised, it is evident that the forthcoming structure will be more supportive and accommodating of OpenAI’s intimate partnership with Microsoft.

Despite investing billions of dollars in OpenAI and holding a reported 49 percent ownership stake (an unconfirmed figure both companies have neither confirmed nor denied), Microsoft found itself blindsided by Altman’s dismissal. The news reached Microsoft officials only moments before it was made public to the rest of the world.

While discussions were still underway to replace the OpenAI board, Nadella, in a conversation on the Pivot podcast, emphasized his desire for greater insight into OpenAI’s decision-making processes, if not a more direct influence, potentially through securing a seat on the new board.

The Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft stated, “One thing I’ll be very, very clear on is that we are never going to get back into a situation where we get surprised like this ever again.”

“That is finished. According to him, “We are much more resolute that we cannot have our customers feel as though there are going to be surprises, and as a result, we will definitely take care of the governance issues.”

It’s evident that the upcoming board will not share the same apprehensions regarding the swift development and deployment of ‘frontier’ AI systems, a factor that seemed to contribute to the discord with Altman.

Among the notable absences from the board is Helen Toner, an Australian academic who has been a vocal advocate for increased transparency and accountability within AI companies like OpenAI.

She will be replaced by Bret Taylor, who is currently on the board of Shopify and was formerly the co-CEO of Salesforce, and Larry Summers, who served as the United States Treasury Secretary and is an economist. Summers has compared the development of generative artificial intelligence to the invention of the printing press.

The removal of key members of OpenAI’s board who were in favor of pumping the brakes was a concerning development, according to Catriona Wallace, who is a supporter of slowing down the use of artificial intelligence until its hazards can be studied in a more comprehensive manner.

This is a potentially hazardous technology that is not regulated. I do not believe that OpenAI is capable of having a business motivation that is as powerful as what they will need to have in order to outcompete Google Meta and all of the other players in the field of generative artificial intelligence and yet walk an ethical line that assures responsible AI governance and puts in place all of the appropriate guardrails,” she says.

According to Microsoft officials, they have implemented their own safeguards to protect the OpenAI technology that is integrated into their Copilot system.

Last week, at Microsoft’s annual Ignite user conference in Seattle, the company unveiled new controls for Copilot. These controls allow users to adjust the guardrails independently, preventing Copilot from unintentionally promoting hate, sex, violence, or self-harm in Microsoft-powered workplaces or schools.

However, the AI safety team at Microsoft has admitted that they are unable to address other possible AI hazards, such as underlying racial or gender biases that may have been introduced during the training of the AI models.

Although Microsoft can collaborate closely with OpenAI to mitigate these risks, the models are owned by OpenAI, not Microsoft. Consequently, Microsoft cannot dictate how OpenAI uses its models, according to officials.

It certainly couldn’t until this week. Now that OpenAI has a new board that is more amenable to Microsoft’s interests, the software behemoth appears to be on the verge of gaining control over the artificial intelligence software it has staked its entire company on.

Plus, there was no cost for the dials. They were finally captured when OpenAI collapsed.

John Davidson was invited by Microsoft to attend briefings in Seattle regarding the company’s artificial intelligence strategy.

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Shikha Rana

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Shikha Rana

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