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Microsoft outsourcing AI research to OpenAI is good news for Google: Cybersecurity CEO

Microsoft outsourcing all of its AI research and development to OpenAI is good news for Google, Todd McKinnon, CEO of cybersecurity firm Okta, told CNBC in an interview.

The Google logo is seen on the Google house(Reuters)

McKinnon said that Google actually pioneered much of the research that led to today’s generative AI, and that Microsoft’s reliance on OpenAI could eventually reduce it to that of a consultancy firm.

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“This all came from Google, with DeepMind and the research,” McKinnon said. “I mean, the breakthrough was the research from Google, the transformers which are the algorithm that all these LLMs [large language models] are using to make these big advancements.”

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Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s DeepMind, had indicated that Google is set to outpace Microsoft in AI investment. Speaking at a recent conference, Hassabis highlighted Google’s commitment to investing more than the $100 billion that Microsoft and OpenAI plan to spend on their AI initiatives over the coming years​​, according to a PC-Tablet article.

It comes as a number of Microsoft’s top products, such as generative AI chatbot, CoPilot and PCs equipped with generative AI software, begin to incorporate tech made by OpenAI, the CNBC report read.

Microsoft invested nearly $13 billion (Rs.1.08 lakh crore) into OpenAI in total. In January 2023, the tech giant said its investment would “accelerate AI breakthroughs to ensure these benefits are broadly shared with the world.”

Still, Google has a mountain to climb if it’s going to achieve commercial success with its own AI investments.

Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI has made it effectively become the leader in the push toward foundation AI models, raising concerns that Google’s position in search could be undermined, as internet users increasingly turn to ChatGPT and other AI chatbots for their search needs, the report read.

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Google’s own AI efforts, meanwhile, have been beset by a number of public blunders.

Google’s AI Overviews feature, meant to give users a summary of information on the internet when they search, has gained headlines for generating nonsensical and dangerous responses to queries, telling some users to put glue on their pizza and eat rocks. Earlier this year, Google’s Gemini AI model was criticized for generating “historically inaccurate” images, a Quartz report read.

McKinnon noted that AI’s development works differently compared to other tech. “It’s different than other generations of technology like with personal computers, where it was not necessarily the biggest companies in the world that had the advantage because the whole thing about personal computers is they were truly disruptive in the sense that they were almost toys,” McKinnon said.

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“There’s no new AI model that’s like a toy. The only reason OpenAI can get it working is because the great R&D that they needed — $10 billion from Microsoft, to run the model — that wasn’t like a disruptive thing, that was a $10 billion investment,” he added.

The “biggest risk” McKinnon sees for the cybersecurity industry going forward is that AI issues stemming from the digital giants such as disinformation could “stunt the progress in technology.”

“The potential [for] artificial intelligence is really high,” he said, but added: “I actually expect the swing of regulation to go so far that we leave only the biggest, most powerful companies in control of AI.”

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