OpenAI’s mission is to develop a god-like artificial intelligence, but it might never get there without the help of Microsoft. U.S. regulators are reportedly clamoring over who can investigate OpenAI and Microsoft’s relationship over antitrust concerns, according to Politico on Friday. If the partnership is broken up, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman may fall short of his mission to build a human-loving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).
The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission both want to investigate the most exciting tech partnership in years, but the regulators have to decide which one will lead the inevitably historic effort. The DOJ and FTC would both look into whether the OpenAI and Microsoft partnership has reduced competition in the AI field.
Regulators started looking more closely at the companies during the November implosion of OpenAI when Microsoft briefly hired Altman after he was canned by his own company’s board and offered jobs to the entire 700-person staff. Altman is back at OpenAI, and the company has returned to business as usual, but that November charade may have cost them the partnership and AGI.
“Under Lina Khan the FTC works in harmony with the AAG Kanter and our DOJ colleagues to vigorously enforce the antitrust laws,” said an FTC spokesperson in an emailed statement to Gizmodo.
The FTC and the DOJ declined to comment on the OpenAI and Microsoft partnership itself.
Altman’s grand vision is to develop an AI that’s like an omniscient golden retriever: it loves people, but it’s potentially intelligent enough to crush humanity. It’s a wonderful idea that OpenAI calls AGI, and its arrival will undoubtedly change the way our world works, but Altman needs Microsoft’s resources to get there.
Microsoft effectively appointed a babysitter to sit in on OpenAI’s board meetings earlier this month, to make sure the house doesn’t catch on fire again. Dee Templeton, a 25-year veteran of Microsoft was chosen as a “nonvoting observer” to sit in on OpenAI’s board meetings and report back to CEO Satya Nadella, so he doesn’t have to find out from the media again.
In terms of competition, OpenAI just launched its GPT Store, which hopes to provide an array of AI services. OpenAI’s attempt at an App Store for AI has already brought concerns from developers who may be funneled into using this marketplace.
OpenAI and Microsoft did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
An investigation from the federal government would be the last thing OpenAI needs right now. The company is already facing a lawsuit from The New York Times regarding copyright infringement. Across the pond, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating the Microsoft partnership, and the European Commission is also looking into it.
Despite OpenAI’s progress towards AGI in recent months, Altman and Nadella are still likely years away from, what some would call, this achievement, and others, a nightmare. If the partnership is broken up by a federal antitrust regulator, that could significantly stall society’s path to superhuman AI. The jury is still out on whether that’s a good thing or not.