What do we know about OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT in which Microsoft invests billions? – Ouest-France evening edition


The prowess of the ChatGPT software has been making the rounds of the internet for several weeks now. Behind this computer program, capable of generating texts or answering questions, there is a start-up based in the United States, OpenAI. A company in which the American giant Microsoft invests billions of dollars.

He can give a cooking recipe, write a philosophy dissertation, answer questions, or even pass an American university exam… The prowess of the ChatGPT software has been around the internet for several weeks now. This computer program, based on artificial intelligence, is capable of writing texts that are sometimes impressively coherent (but not always), its performance also sometimes gives rise to concerns. Behind this program is OpenAI, a start-up based in San Francisco, USA. The company is of great interest to the American IT giant Microsoft, which has already invested more than 3 billion dollars (2.76 billion euros) in the company since 2019. And it’s not over since the company has announced a new investment on Monday January 23, 2023. Amount: 10 billion dollars, or more than 9 billion euros according to the Bloomberg press agency… Here is what we know about OpenAI.

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Elon Musk among its founders

The history of OpenAI begins in 2015. Its founders are “a small group of entrepreneurs and researchers specializing in artificial intelligence”, notes the American daily The New York Times. Among them, there is in particular… Elon Musk. The boss of the companies SpaceX and Tesla or of the social network Twitter left OpenAI in 2018, and has since expressed concern in the face of the rise of technologies based on artificial intelligence.

Among the founders are also the businessman Sam Altman, head of Y Combinator, a powerful investment company in start-ups, or the Canadian computer scientist Ilya Sutskever, “one of the most important researchers of the last decade”, according to New York Times.

Initially, in 2015, OpenAI presented itself as “ a not-for-profit artificial intelligence research company ». His goal : “To advance digital artificial intelligence in the way most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, without being limited by the need to generate a financial return…” But after 2018 and the departure of Elon Musk, OpenAI is transformed into a “classic” company, with the aim of raising funds to finance its research. Which works since from 2019, Microsoft is investing a billion dollars.

Today, OpenAI LP is “led by the board of directors of the nonprofit OpenAI”, reads on its website. It sits, in particular, Sam Altman, the president and CEO, or Ilya Sutskever, the scientific director. As well as several personalities “which are not employed by OpenAI”.

Read also: Student Cheating With ChatGPT Software Forces Universities To Revise Exams

“Limited Profit Company”

OpenAI doesn’t just develop ChatGPT. Among its programs there is also the DALL-E 2 software, which allows to generate images from text with a single click. The company sells its services to various other digital players. For example, the company offers its potential customers to“integrate DALL-E directly into [leurs] applications to generate and modify images as well as unpublished illustrations ». Price: 0.02 cents per image for the highest resolution, 1024 pixels by 1024 pixels…

Read also: This software creates with one click a hyper realistic image from a simple description

“The start-up plans to earn $200 million in 2023 from licenses and products premium like ChatGPT Professional, a pittance compared to the billions of dollars that have been invested in the startup so far,” notes the specialized media TechCrunch.

OpenAI is, today, a “capped profit company”. This means that investors can, at most, expect to recover 100 times their initial outlay, and no more. And maybe less in the future, explained the company in 2019.

But ROI isn’t just what companies pouring money into OpenAI are looking for. Microsoft, which announced the layoff of 10,000 employees, would like to integrate these artificial intelligence technologies into some of its programs, such as the Bing search engine, office applications from the Office suite, or Teams messaging, underlines Bloomberg .

Microsoft seems to rely heavily on artificial intelligence. This is what Brad Smith, the president of the American giant, said in mid-December in an interview with the Reuters news agency: “In 2023, we’re going to see breakthroughs that people two years ago would have imagined for 2033. This is going to be hugely important, not just for Microsoft’s future but for everyone’s future. »

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