Despite a billion-dollar investment in OpenAI, Microsoft is looking for more partners to develop AI. The Redmond company has a license to use OpenAI technology for its own software suite but wants to make it possible for other companies to create AI tools themselves. To do this, it has joined forces with Databricks, leaving open the options for the future of AI.
The Information reports that a Databricks application will appear on Azure that will provide AI development tools. Companies can build an LLM for their own use case with a dataset from their own company. It builds on existing initiatives within Databricks, such as Dolly 2.0, an open-source LLM that is an alternative to OpenAI’s GPT model.
Internally and externally
There are broadly two paths generative AI takes: one that focuses on monolithic AI models such as GPT-4 and another that relies on open source. In the latter case, the underlying model can be adjusted as desired, whereby it can be stated with certainty that the dataset used does not violate any copyright or privacy rights. For LLMs like GPT-4, there are still unresolved compliance issues: Italy had temporarily banned ChatGPT out of concern, while numerous companies are banning it for their employees.
Despite all these concerns, OpenAI’s models are still up and running, supporting just about the entire Microsoft 365 suite of AI assistive tools. In other words: the tech giant from Redmond has fully committed to OpenAI for its own software package. The same does not seem to apply to what it wants to offer other organizations. Those who use the AI capabilities of the Office package, for example, use OpenAI technology, but cannot tinker with the AI themselves. Microsoft wants to make that possible with a new Databricks product, which makes us wonder which way the tech giant wants to go with AI in the long term.
You might think that generative AI can continue to live side-by-side in these two forms. After all, OpenAI supports the AI functions of other parties through all kinds of partnerships, such as with Salesforce, Carrefour, and recently Rakuten. However, an insider at Google apparently saw it differently in May and put itself and OpenAI in direct competition with the open-source community.
The danger for OpenAI is that parties such as Databricks win this battle because that form of LLM is more adaptable to the wishes of each individual organization. If Microsoft also supports this, it is fair to wonder how long it will take for the tech giant to go in the same open-source direction to build its own AI models. At the moment it seems that Microsoft management is still betting on two horses.