Microsoft says it is making a «multi-billion dollar, multi-year investment» in artificial intelligence startup OpenAI, ChatGPT creator and other tools that can write readable text and generate new images.

The tech giant on Monday described its new deal as the third stage of a growing partnership with San Francisco-based OpenAI, which began with a $1 billion investment in 2019. It did not disclose the dollar amount of its latest investment.

The partnership positions Microsoft to sharpen its competition with Google in bringing to market new AI advances that could transform numerous professions as well as the Internet search business.

OpenAI’s free writing tool, ChatGPT, launched on November 30 and has drawn public attention to the possibilities of further advances in AI.

It is part of a new generation of machine learning systems that can converse, generate readable text on demand, and produce novel images and videos based on what they have learned from a vast database of digital books, written online, and other media.

The Microsoft partnership allows you to capitalize on OpenAI technology. Microsoft supercomputers are helping power the startup’s power-hungry artificial intelligence systems, while the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant will be able to further integrate OpenAI technology into Microsoft products.

«In this next phase of our partnership,» said a statement from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, customers using Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform will have access to new AI tools to build and run their applications.

OpenAI began as a non-profit artificial intelligence research company when it launched in December 2015. With Tesla CEO Elon Musk as its co-chairman and one of its early investors, the organization’s stated goals were » promote digital intelligence in the most likely way». to benefit humanity as a whole, without the limitations of the need to generate financial return”.

That changed in 2018 when it brought in a for-profit commercial Open AI LP and shifted nearly all of its staff into the business, shortly after releasing its first generation of the GPT model for generating paragraphs of human-readable text. Musk also left his board in 2018.

OpenAI’s other products include the DALL-E image generator, first released in 2021, the Codex computer programming assistant, and the Whisper speech recognition tool.

Microsoft said Monday that their strengthened partnership can help «accelerate advances in AI to ensure these benefits are shared widely with the world.»

The investment announcement came a day before Microsoft reported its earnings for the October-December financial quarter and after disclosing last week its plans to lay off 10,000 employeesabout 5% of its global workforce.