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It looks like Elon Musk isn’t happy about Microsoft exclusively licensing OpenAI’s text-generating software

  • Elon Musk voiced his discontent on Twitter that OpenAI — the AI research firm he helped found — is exclusively licensing its famous natural language software GPT-3 to Microsoft.
  • “This does seem like the opposite of open. OpenAI is essentially captured by Microsoft,” Musk tweeted.
  • GPT-3 is able to generate text that looks natural enough to have been written by a human.
  • Microsoft said others would still be able to access GPT-3 via an API, so it isn’t clear that it’s cutting others off.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It looks like Elon Musk is increasingly unhappy with OpenAI, the AI research firm he helped found five years ago.

Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it was exclusively licensing GPT-3, a natural language AI-powered tool made by OpenAI.

The announcement was met with some dismay on Twitter from users who had thought OpenAI’s mission statement was to make technologies like GPT-3 widely available. Elon Musk, who cofounded the company in 2015 as a non-profit AI research body, was among those who criticized the deal.

“This does seem like the opposite of open. OpenAI is essentially captured by Microsoft,” he said.

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said in a blog post the company was licensing the software to “leverage its technical innovations to develop and deliver advanced AI solutions for our customers, as well as create new solutions that harness the amazing power of advanced natural language generation.”

It’s not clear exactly what its commercial uses might be, although Scott hinted it could be used to built translation tools or even to help people write and compose.

Exactly how much exclusivity this license gives Microsoft is also unclear. In his post, Scott said OpenAI will continue to offer access to GPT-3 via its API.

OpenAI reiterated this in its own blog post, saying “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.”

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge the deal gives Microsoft exclusive access to GPT-3’s underlying code.

Musk’s disdain for Microsoft might be related to his ongoing sparring with its cofounder Bill Gates, though this also isn’t the first time he has openly criticized OpenAI.

In February he said he tweeted that his confidence in the company approach to safety around AI was “not high.” Although Musk was the company’s co-chair at its founding in 2015, he said in February that he has “no control” and “limited insight” these days.

GPT-3 has made headlines because of its ability to generate text that reads as though it were written by a human. When it was first unveiled in February 2019 OpenAI said it wouldn’t open-source the software for fear it could be misused, for example by generating swathes of fake Amazon reviews. It launched the tool in private beta in June of this year.

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