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Microsoft has found AI gold. In its quick and genius $10 billion-dollar investment in ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 creator OpenAI, Microsoft has sent shockwaves through the tech world, shaking up the balance of power among Big Tech players scrambling to stay ahead of the generative AI trend. Already Google, Meta and Amazon have reacted to Microsoft’s strategy with moves of their own.
While some see generative AI as a tool for innovation, many are concerned about potential implications of such advanced technology for privacy and safety.
Regardless of what your sentiments surrounding the tools are, one thing’s for sure: If there’s anything that we can all take away from the first month of 2023, it’s that generative AI is the name of the game this year — and will reshape Big Tech forever.
ChatGPT: Redefining our tech jobs — and our IT departments
Whenever there’s any type of disruptive technology, fear mounts. Together with today’s economic headwinds that appear to be indicating an upcoming recession, this creates this perfect storm for chaos and angst, especially when it comes to retaining our jobs.
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Will ChatGPT take all developers’ and programmers’ jobs away? No. However, in a time when budgets are tight and monumental layoffs are occurring across the tech industry, ChatGPT will force devops teams across enterprises to rethink how this type of technology could aid them in their typical day. For example, it might take over some of the more repetitive jobs like testing and analyzing code, which are filled by humans now.
In the short period that ChatGPT has existed, its ability to answer code- and infra-related questions and even test, analyze and debug the 60+-year-old COBOL language would give today’s typical programming student a passing grade — and this is just the beginning.
As the tool progresses and learns more, there’s great potential to enhance and scale innovation by bridging skills shortages and speeding up processes in enterprises. The technology has the power to take a solid programmer and make them the best on your team. With that, it’s critical for organizations and IT teams to embrace generative AI in ways that are complementary to human skills — and to think about the tool as a “sidekick” rather than a threat.
ChatGPT and Generative AI’s foggy privacy, regulatory and compliance future
While developers are increasingly incorporating ChatGPT into their everyday debugging and testing practice, there’s also a surge of organizations banning it, as ChatGPT saves everything that’s entered into it and the information entered becomes OpenAI’s property. Additionally, with Microsoft so deeply involved, let’s just say competing software companies wouldn’t want their developers putting their trade secrets and coding into the solution.
Still, it’s only a matter of time before we see more solutions from competing platforms with unique capabilities. Further down the line, this is where the situation will also get complex.
Due to the foreign aspects of this technology, and the fact that there are legal, ethical and technical concepts that we’ve never dealt with before, governments will also need to quickly find solutions for tackling these important issues. Although exciting, it’s a risky and uncertain area the industry is entering — and we’ll likely see new regulations, disclosures and privacy laws that emerge.
How Microsoft and OpenAI can benefit each other
With Microsoft’s billion-dollar investment in OpenAI giving it access to pioneering AI technology like ChatGPT, the software giant is back on everyone’s radar as an organization committed to innovation.
For those who haven’t been following Microsoft news recently, Azure’s revenues have recently declined, while the company’s search engine, Bing, wasn’t as lucrative as it had once hoped. Time will tell if Microsoft gets its ROI, but the company quickly recognized the potential of OpenAI’s technology and has now been granted preferential rights to commercialize OpenAI’s products.
For its part, Microsoft’s first-mover advantage gives it access to an advanced AI technology that will help it reshape and modernize its existing applications while leveraging Azure Cloud Computing Services. That means Azure partners will also benefit immensely from Microsoft’s involvement.
On the OpenAI side, there was no better investor than Microsoft, which brought its own millions of customers to the deal. At the same time, OpenAI now has a new, profitable business model and has accelerated its own AI research and development — while staying independent from the Microsoft name.
This deal has given OpenAI a massive share of the generative AI market. And the industry at large learns an important lesson: Big Tech goliaths can be challenged.
The ‘Big’ takeaway: Big Tech isn’t invincible
In short, Microsoft’s investment has far-reaching ramifications across the tech industry. The fact that we don’t know what we don’t know is thrilling, but it also comes with risk, as the frontiers of this technology are so brand new.
As we look ahead into 2023, the move nicely positions OpenAI as a power player and demonstrates that there’s room for more players beyond Big Tech who can shape the internet and set the boundaries between humans and machines.
Rob Anderson is VP of marketing and product for application modernization at Advanced
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