Cloud

Microsoft partners with OpenAI to advance AI research with Azure

Nonprofit research organization OpenAI recently chose Microsoft Azure as its primary cloud platform, to further support their research and innovations in the space.

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Image: Claire Reilly/CNET

OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence research organization co-founded by tech visionaries Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, and Ilya Sutskever, announced Tuesday that it was partnering with Microsoft to advance its work in AI. As part of the deal, announced via a blog post, Microsoft Azure will act as the primary cloud platform for OpenAI.

In the post, Microsoft said that it is "committed to democratizing AI and making it accessible to everyone," and that is a mission that they share with OpenAI. As part of the deal, Microsoft isn't just providing infrastructure, it will also help OpenAI "advance their research and create new tools and technologies that are only possible with the cloud," the post said.

The reasoning behind OpenAI's decision to partner with Microsoft, according to the post, is due to Microsoft's focus on deep learning, open source technologies, and the capabilities available in tools such as Azure Batch, Azure Machine Learning, and the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit. Microsoft's Azure N-Series Virtual Machines, which are optimized for high computer workloads like deep learning, are already being used by OpenAI, the post said.

SEE: Microsoft Azure: The smart person's guide

Microsoft's focus on AI has been ramping up heavily over the past few years, and the company seems to be hitting its stride in 2016. In June, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, laid out his 10 rules for AI, further outlining how the company would be approaching the technology.

Since the, Microsoft has recently unveiled new innovations in the space such as its Concept Graph to help "make sense" of AI, and its advances in speech recognition. And, the Microsoft Azure cloud platform has been a part of it all as well, with Nadella saying the company was building out Azure as "the first AI supercomputer."

In addition to the partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft also announced the its Azure Bot Service preview that allows developers to build bots on the "Microsoft Bot Framework and easily deploy and manage them in a serverless environment on Azure." These bots run on Azure Functions—available now—to help them scale and more efficiently use resources.

However, Microsoft hasn't always had the best luck with bots. Back in April, a chatbot from Microsoft called Tay was manipulated by users into spewing racist and sexist messages before being taken offline.

While interesting, the partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI was preceded by the launch of the Partnership on AI in September, when Microsoft joined Facebook, IBM, Google, and Amazon to promote best practices in AI development.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft recently partnered with OpenAI to provide Azure cloud resources to further OpenAI's efforts in AI research and development.
  2. Microsoft also announced the preview of its Azure Bot Service, which allows developers to build intelligent chatbots.
  3. Microsoft has been steadily increasing its focus on AI, with CEO Satya Nadella outlining its 10 rules for AI development in the summer.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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