Microsoft licenses the breakthrough natural language AI GPT-3

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·2 mins read

Microsoft announced that it has “exclusively licensed” OpenAI’s sophisticated GPT-3 language model that can generate disturbingly human-like text in applications ranging from commercial bots to creative writing. After investing $1 billion in the San Francisco startup last year to become OpenAI’s exclusive cloud partner, Microsoft will get access to the language tech for itself and its Azure cloud customers.

OpenAI released GPT-3 just a couple of months ago to a limited group of developers, but its capabilities have already generated massive amounts of buzz. It’s the largest language model ever trained, and is capable of not just mundane tasks like auto-generating business correspondence, but also creative or technical chores like poetry, memes and computer code.

In fact, the code is so powerful that OpenAI initially refused to publish research on the earlier GPT-2 model for fear it could be abused to write fake news. Despite the huge size and power of the model, it’s also surprisingly easy to use.

“Unlike most AI systems which are designed for one use-case, OpenAI’s API today provides a general-purpose ‘text in, text out’ interface, allowing users to try it on virtually any English language task. GPT-3 is the most powerful model behind the API today, with 175 billion parameters,” the company wrote in a blog about the new partnership.

Microsoft wants to use GPT-3 to expand what it can offer its Azure cloud customers. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale,” said Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott. “We want to make sure that this AI platform is available to everyone — researchers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, businesses — to empower their ambitions to create something new and interesting.”

With the deal, Microsoft has also gained access to the source code that it could integrate into its own products, according to The Verge. At the same time, OpenAI said that others can continue to use the model. “The deal has no impact on continued access to the GPT-3 model through OpenAI’s API, and existing and future users of it will continue building applications with our API as usual,” the company wrote.