To what extent there is any association with artificial intelligence and the commingling of large language models based off generative pre-trained transformers, Microsoft seems to be at the forefront of that depiction as of late thanks to a blitz of announcements from the company and its CEO Satya Nadella.
A new character piece from Fast Company outlines Microsoft’s bogarting of the recent influx of AI led headlines thanks in large part to its very bullish and outspoken CEO who has been at the forefront of feature reveals, product announcements, partnership unveilings and predictive conversations about the future of the technology.
Microsoft has been at the forefront of the tech world’s AI race because of the landmark partnership Nadella struck with ChatGPT creator OpenAI, which—in return for a reported $13 billion investment—gives the software giant first dibs at the startup’s current and upcoming technologies. As the results have begun showing up in new and upcoming versions of Microsoft products, from GitHub to Bing to Excel to Azure, they’ve greatly boosted the company’s standing in relation to peers such as Amazon and Google. For the first time since its 1990s heyday, the company is widely regarded as the pacemaker in technology’s next historic wave of change.
Accompanying the profile piece are reports and estimates that point towards AI being an additional $50 to one hundred billion catalysts for Microsoft’s stock over the next few months and years, with analysts from McKinsey issuing estimates that generative AI technology alone could add “$2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion in annual value to the global economy” through efficiencies.
While Microsoft may have been the most outspoke about its intent to infuse its widely used productivity suite, flagship operating system and browser with AI technologies, the company is not working in a vacuum, and it should be noted that its competition had been working on LLM’s and GPTs long before Nadella took to a stage in January 2023 to herald an AI arms race.
Prior to its historic $10 billion investment partnership with Microsoft that’s been the heart of the company’s AI push, OpenAI once shifted its workload to Google Cloud after being founded by Silicon Valley tech executives such as Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, and Elon Musk back in 2015.
In 2017 Google established the foundation of LLM when it introduced the Transformer model in a paper called Attention Is All You Need from the businesses Google Brain division.
Until Microsoft’s January 2023 announcement, Google had quietly sat on LLMs as a viable consumer and commercial product, due in part to its disruptive nature on the company’s main revenue driver, search.
With little at stake with its 3% global market share in search, Microsoft and Nadella threw caution to the wind and launched an all-out-blitz on seizing the narrative of AI and generative and being the company at the forefront of a new technology revolution.
Google was also rightly concerned about the minefield that is misinformation and questionable accuracy of exposing LLMs to millions of questions and prompts from users early on during the rollout of the technology, so much so, they sat on it for almost a decade.
Since Microsoft’s announcement earlier this year, the floodgates have opened and poured in increasing competition from other businesses bent on being part of the AI infusing of platforms trend that include Google, X (formerly Twitter), Meta, IBM, OpenAI, Opera, Mozilla, and NVIDIA to name a few.
The Fast Company write up is a recommended read with as it covers several other aspects of an AI push that includes the Microsoft’s AI principal theories for future use of AI, Nadella’s cloud focused tenure at the company that’s propelled the stock to the $2 trillion stratosphere, as well as what Google’s response has been to Bing Chat’s early generative AI push.
It is early days and there have already been several issues with deploying AI at scale that have dinged the bullish approaches executives and journalists hold with regards to the usefulness LLMs and GPTs will have in the world, but as of now, it’s been Microsoft and Nadella as the initial face of the AI push, for better or for worse.