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November 15, 2016updated 30 Jun 2022 8:56am

Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence group signs Microsoft cloud deal

OpenAI has been backed by tech luminaries to the tune of $1bn.

By James Nunns

Microsoft and Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence research group have signed a partnership.

Terms of the partnership will see OpenAI use Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, for its large-scale experiments.

The non-profit AI research organisation that is backed by Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and the likes of Amazon Web Services and Infosys to the tune of $1bn, has the goal of advancing digital intelligence in a way that, “is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”

The partnership comes about partly due to Microsoft’s work on its Cognitive Toolkit, a system for deep learning that is used to speed advances in areas such as speech and image recognition, and because Azure already supports AI workloads with tools such as Azure Batch and Azure Machine Learning.

OpenAI has been an early adopter of Microsoft’s still in beta N-Series machines, a cloud computing service that is powered by Nvidia and now the two will partner on finding ways to advance AI research.

OpenAI said in a blog post: “In the coming months we will use thousands to tens of thousands of these machines to increase both the number of experiments we run and the size of the models we train.”

Microsoft has been pushing ahead of the cloud market when it comes to investing in artificial intelligence and introducing it into products. Cortana is probably the most well known of its AI offerings but it has also been applying the technology to medicine and bots, which it has begun rolling out to online help services.

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Microsoft also today launched its Azure Bot Service. The service is designed to help developers to cost effectively host their bots on Azure.

OpenAI was created in December 2015 with a group of founding members that includes the like of Elon Musk. Ilya Sutskever is the research director and Greg Brockman is the CTO.

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