Microsoft’s Effort in Making AGI a Reality

by May 3, 2020 0 comments

Living in a world of continuous evolution, humans are looking forward to a future with a machine of utmost intelligence. Owing to the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing at a fast pace, we seek out a fascinating era where technology will possess human-like intelligence in every aspect. This is what in theory considered Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

An AGI refers to a machine having the capability to understand the world, as well as any human, can and learn to carry out a wide range of tasks in the same capacity. However, this ultimate version of AI doesn’t exist yet but many big techs are betting on its possibility and potential to occur.

Let’s explore the big bet of tech giant Microsoft on AGI.

Last year, Microsoft invested US$1 billion in OpenAI to support the latter building artificial general intelligence (AGI) with widely distributed economic benefits. To note, OpenAI is an independent AI research laboratory discovering and enacting the path to safe artificial general intelligence. Microsoft partnered with the research firm to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI. Both the organizations will jointly develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become OpenAI’s exclusive cloud provider—so the latter will be working hard together to further extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems.

Each year since 2012, the world has seen a new step function advance in AI capabilities. Though these advances are across very different fields like vision (2012), simple video games (2013), machine translation (2014), complex board games (2015), speech synthesis (2016), image generation (2017), robotic control (2018), and writing text (2019), they are all powered by the same approach: innovative applications of deep neural networks coupled with increasing computational power. But still, the AI system building today involves a lot of manual engineering for each well-defined task.

In contrast, an AGI will be a system capable of mastering a field of study to the world-expert level and mastering more fields than anyone human-like a tool that combines the skills of Curie, Turing, and Bach. An AGI working on a problem would be able to see connections across disciplines that no human could. OpenAI wants AGI to work with people to solve currently intractable multi-disciplinary problems, including global challenges such as climate change, affordable and high-quality healthcare, and personalized education. The company thinks its impact should be to give everyone economic freedom to pursue what they find most fulfilling, creating new opportunities for all of our lives that are unimaginable today.

OpenAI is producing a sequence of increasingly powerful AI technologies, which requires a lot of capital for computational power. The most obvious way to cover costs is to build a product, but that would mean changing the company’s focus. Instead, OpenAI intends to license some of its pre-AGI technologies, with Microsoft becoming its preferred partner for commercializing them.

OpenAI believes that the creation of beneficial AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity. The company said in its blog, “We have a hard technical path in front of us, requiring a unified software engineering and AI research effort of massive computational scale, but technical success alone is not enough. To accomplish our mission of ensuring that AGI (whether built by us or not) benefits all of humanity, we’ll need to ensure that AGI is deployed safely and securely; that society is well-prepared for its implications; and that its economic upside is widely shared. If we achieve this mission, we will have actualized Microsoft and OpenAI’s shared value of empowering everyone.”

“The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said Sam Altman, CEO, OpenAI. “Our mission is to ensure that AGI technology benefits all of humanity, and we’re working with Microsoft to build the supercomputing foundation on which we’ll build AGI. We believe it’s crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed. We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision.”

“AI is one of the most transformative technologies of our time and has the potential to help solve many of our world’s most pressing challenges,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “By bringing together OpenAI’s breakthrough technology with new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, our ambition is to democratize AI — while always keeping AI safety front and center — so everyone can benefit.”

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