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Microsoft’s AI play with ChatGPT could put Bing in Google’s face

Generative AI is already being used to write academic essays, blogs and letters. It is being used to develop graphic illustrations for corporates and could threaten companies such as Canva.

Microsoft’s move to back OpenAI is risky because there is no guarantee that consumers wedded to Google’s search engine will switch. But according to an article in The Information, Microsoft has been clever in tying its initial $US1 billion investment in OpenAI to the use of cloud computing credits.

This prompted OpenAI to shift about $US120 million in cloud business from Google to Microsoft, The Information article said.

Also, Microsoft has a sketchy record of success outside its core expertise in desktop software.

Although it has successfully challenged Google and Amazon in cloud computing, it failed miserably in commercialising the first computer tablet, and its move into mobile handsets through the purchase of Nokia flopped. In each case, it conceded defeat to Apple.

Grinbaum, who is a general partner and technology director at Paradigm Shift Asset Management, says this time could be different because OpenAI is well ahead of Google.

He believes 2023 will be the breakout year for generative AI.

“In the current decade, we will see at least two more breakthroughs in the level of artificial intelligence, and each of them will create new business models – and seriously undermine the existing ones,” he says.

Creative disruption

Grinbaum says venture capitalists are backing virtually anything to do with generative artificial intelligence because of the fear that it will destroy the value of vanilla AI companies.

“They are aware that the chance for challenge and creative disruption is greater today than ever before,” he says.

“We are in an era where the development is so steep that an investor in smart AI doesn’t know if the technology they are investing in is going to be commercialised before it is overtaken by ChatGPT.

“It is important to note that ChatGPT is not an application, it’s a platform. If you are a company using services based on ChatGPT such as Jasper, the technology at the back-end will just keep getting better.”

Jasper is a generative AI product that is being used to write blogs and essays from text prompts.

Grinbaum says Microsoft’s backing of OpenAI and the inclusion of ChatGPT in Bing puts it at the forefront of the AI arms race with Google, which has its own generative AI software called LaMDA.

OpenAI’s confidence in its growth is evident from a forecast that it will achieve $US1 billion in revenue this year.

Grinbaum says OpenAI got the jump on Google in generative AI because of the wonders of open-sourced software development, a methodology once shunned by Microsoft but now embraced across its platforms.

“Never underestimate the power of open source,” he says. “The GPT releases by OpenAI, from the first paper in June 2018 to the coming release of GPT-4, have advanced the AI space more than anything else I have seen.”

Grinbaum says it is noteworthy that one of the original backers of OpenAI, which started as a not-for-profit but evolved to a profit model to raise capital, was Elon Musk, who pulled out in 2018.

“Once again, it illustrates the ability of Elon Musk to distinguish between money-making tech and tech that requires community and strong support from the industry in its evolution and acceptance,” he says.

Grinbaum says that to understand the disruptive power of ChatGPT, one has to compare what Google search delivers to consumers with the results delivered by generative AI.

Google search will deliver a list of links to websites and often the search results are driven by commercial advertising arrangements.

When fully operational in Bing, someone searching on it with the ChatGPT API installed will be able to see the links to web pages as well as the generated AI results based on analysis of pools of data that the AI machine has been trained on.

Grinbaum says a further iteration of ChatGPT could threaten the delivery of news on smartphones.

“You will be able in the future to get automatic news feeds customised to your voice, which would mean the delivery of information from both offline and online,” he says.

This would threaten products such as Google News on Android phones and Apple News on iPhones.

‘You get control back over information’

“Your news results will not be technically influenced by the Google algorithm – in other words, you get control back over information,” he says.

Grinbaum says it is not beyond imagination that ChatGPT will replace advertisers, telemarketers, analysts and authors working in different formats, as well as software coders.

He says there is an endless number of applications for generative AI, including podcasts.

For example, a software engineer who has the Twitter handle @yacineMTB, created a podcast by downloading two academic papers, getting the machine to create the dialogue for each paper, and using ChatGPT, generated a conversation between two automated voices.

Grinbaum says the content on the podcast was not brilliant, but it made sense and, given the likely progress in the software, it is “mind-blowing”.

“In the future, a user might prompt a custom-made podcast on just about anything, and with access to a great pool of content, a vendor such as Google or Microsoft will be able to provide such a podcast, made only for one person,” he says.


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