Microsoft debuts supercomputer for creating human-like artificial intelligence

Ruben Fields
May 20, 2020

Microsoft says it has created one of the world's top supercomputers for the exclusive use of OpenAI, the San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company pursuing breakthroughs in artificial general intelligence, or AGI, new forms of autonomous technology that would match or surpass human abilities.

Microsoft's Azure AI capabilities will be embedded in image sensors developed by Sony's subsidiary Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp to allow customers to extract useful information from images captured by cameras and other devices. The company made the announcement during its Build developers conference, which is being held virtually rather than in person in Seattle where it is usually held each year.

OpenAI was formed in 2016 by Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO; Altman, the former Y Combinator president; Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's chief scientist; and Greg Brockman, the former Stripe CTO. Musk has since left the company, while Altman is now its CEO. The given hardware is touted to enable the fifth most popular system when compared with machines listed on the TOP500 project site.

Since Microsoft doesn't actually tell us much more than that, except for a few more specs that say it had 10,000 GPUs and 400 gigabits per second of network connectivity per server, we'll just have to take Microsoft's and OpenAI's word for this.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks during a company event, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 in NY.

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Sony and Microsoft may be rivals in the console gaming space, but the pair have been working together since previous year on cloud-based technology - and according to Sony's executive vice president Toru Katsumoto, that relationship is only going to mature as time goes on. The companies agreed that Microsoft would become a preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies. "And then Microsoft was able to build it".

The ultimate goal is to use these new systems to solve major challenges in areas such as healthcare, climate and education. Earlier this year, it built Microsoft Turing, the world's largest language model with a whopping 17 billion parameters.

The Turing mode, for example, develops a more complete understanding of language by using so-called "self-supervised" learning.

"This type of model can so deeply absorb the nuances of language, grammar, knowledge, concepts and context that it can excel at multiple tasks: summarizing a lengthy speech, moderating content in live gaming chats.or even generating code from scouring GitHub", reads the post.

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