The competition between Google and Microsoft over the AI future of technology continues to intensify. While Microsoft is closely tied to ChatGPT creator OpenAI, Google may have turned to a company founded by former OpenAI employees: the little-known Anthropic.
According to a report of the Financial timesIn late 2022, Google invested about $300 million in the startup, though the news was not reported at the time. In exchange for the money, Google got a 10 percent stake in the company and must buy Anthropic cloud computing resources from the search giant, says the FT.
This dynamic is somewhat similar to the collaboration between Microsoft and OpenAI. There, OpenAI provides the research expertise, while Microsoft not only provides billions of dollars in investment, but also provides access to its massive cloud platform, which is needed to train the latest compute-intensive AI models.
Notably, Anthropic is also developing its own generic chatbot: a potential rival to ChatGPT named Claude. (Claude is in closed beta, but you can read a comparison between Anthropic and OpenAI’s systems here.) However, it’s not clear if Google plans to integrate Claude into its services, as Microsoft is doing with ChatGPT. Google already has a lot of in-house expertise to develop AI language systems, and FT suggests that one of the reasons for the deal is simply to build Google’s cloud computing business.
Anthropic was founded by OpenAI employees who were dissatisfied with the company’s trajectory
The backstory to the founding of Anthropic is also relevant. The organization was made in 2021 as a public benefit enterprise by Dario Amodei, a former vice president of research at OpenAI. Amodei brought along a number of OpenAI researchers, including Tom Brown, chief engineer for AI language model GPT-3. As the FT notes that Amodei has split from OpenAI “following disagreements over the company’s direction” – namely the company’s increasingly commercial focus following its initial deal with Microsoft in 2019.
Many AI researchers have since criticized OpenAI’s actions as increasingly reckless, most notably the launch of ChatGPT on the public web late last year without proper safeguards or software that could reliably detect its output. In comparison, Anthropic highlights its work on building “reliable, interpretable, and controllable AI systems” on its website. But will Google’s investment affect a shift in these priorities?
In any case, we may hear more about Google’s AI future soon. The company is hosting an event on the subject next week, February 8. And we’ll likely see more from Microsoft about its plans to add ChatGPT to Bing in the near future.