Microsoft’s recent victory in landing a $10 billion Pentagon cloud-computing contract called JEDI could make life more complicated for one of the software giant’s partners: the independent artificial-intelligence research lab OpenAI.
OpenAI was created in 2015 by Silicon Valley luminaries including Elon Musk to look to the far horizon, and save the world. The newborn nonprofit said it had commitments totaling $1 billion and would work on AI “to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.” But OpenAI restructured into a for-profit this year, saying it needed more money to fulfill its goals, and took $1 billion from Microsoft in a deal that involves helping the company’s cloud division develop new AI technology.
Now Microsoft’s JEDI win raises the possibility that OpenAI’s work for the benefit of humanity may also serve the US military.
Asked if anything would prevent OpenAI technology reaching the Pentagon, the lab’s CEO, Sam Altman, said its contract with Microsoft requires “mutual agreement” before any particular technology from the lab can be commercialized by the software giant. He declined to discuss what OpenAI might agree to or what the company’s stance is on helping the US military.
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