Microsoft is distancing itself from OpenAI – Here’s why

August 17, 2023

Microsoft and OpenAI

While Microsoft is one of the biggest investors in OpenAI, it seems like the relationship between the two companies has become strained.

OpenAI is the company behind ChatGPT which has users from classrooms to boardrooms across the world. Recently it has come in for criticism over the potential risk it poses to private and corporate data.

After investing billions of dollars in OpenAI, Microsoft seems to be unsure of the future of ChatGPT in its current form. Big tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Samsung, have limited or placed blanket bans on their staff using ChatGPT for work over security concerns.

It doesn’t help that OpenAI is currently facing a lawsuit claiming that the company stole “massive amounts of personal data” to train ChatGPT. News of its GPTBot scraping data from websites has raised eyebrows too.

Microsoft is heavily invested in corporates trusting its products and is naturally trying to avoid guilt by association. 

At the same time, Microsoft sees the value of ChatGPT and its shareholders will want to see a return on their investment. Enter Azure ChatGPT.

Azure ChatGPT – Now you see it, now you don’t

Microsoft realized that its customers wanted a secure version of ChatGPT, so a few days ago it released Azure ChatGPT on GitHub

When Microsoft announced the release it expressed its concerns over ChatGPT by saying, “ChatGPT risks exposing confidential intellectual property. One option is to block corporate access to ChatGPT, but people always find workarounds.”

Azure ChatGPT was intended as a secure private version of ChatGPT that could be run on a company’s network without external network access.

I say it “was” intended because Microsoft promptly pulled Azure ChatGPT from the shelves.

Sam Altman was quick on the draw when news of Azure ChatGPT hit and he was probably as surprised as everyone else by Microsoft’s move. When your biggest investor says they don’t trust the security of your product it isn’t great for your brand.

He Tweeted confirmation of OpenAI’s claim that it does not use data submitted to ChatGPT via the API to train its models.

The need for securely run private versions of ChatGPT is a no-brainer. Companies aren’t going to risk sensitive data being leaked by careless employees using the tool in its current guise.

Will OpenAI figure out a way to make people feel secure about its product? Will Microsoft be willing to wait until it does? It seems Microsoft is getting restless and it’s obvious that the vibe between the two companies isn’t great.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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