Platform approach to AI

One of the elements which is ground-breaking in relation to OpenAI and #Microsoft working together is that the vision is to deliver ‘foundational AI’ capability as a platform for others to commercialise, productise and also industrialise.

In my mind, this is the key element here. This is taking a small team, iterative science and innovation, scaling this and through a vision to build a foundational service/platform which then powers other, richer experiences (like the core search algorithm).

From an interview on Stratechery with Kevin Scott & Sam Altman:

“…that we both really powerfully believed in this vision of powerful — what we call foundation models now — but these big models that we could use as platforms to develop lots of things on top of. We had a shared vision of what you needed to do at scale. We, Microsoft, believed that OpenAI was one of, if not the best — and I would argue actually it is the best AI team pound-for-pound on the planet — and that we could work together. They would help us do the highest ambition things with their infrastructure, which would be beneficial not just for OpenAI, but for Microsoft and all of the other customers who were using us to do AI things, and then we could help OpenAI commercialize some of the things that they were doing.”

“KS: I think the way that I would characterize it, and this is where Microsoft and OpenAI are very aligned, is we believe that what we’re building is a platform of powerful compute and powerful AI models that lots and lots of other people are going to build on top of. Some of those people are product teams at Microsoft, some of those are product teams at OpenAI, some of them are entrepreneurs that are starting companies right now that are already building successful businesses on top of all of this. So for us it’s about whether we want to be part of completing that whole platform picture alongside OpenAI so that this technology can emerge and scale, and be as useful as possible to as many people as possible over time.”

This approach, which is also how the mRNA vaccine ‘platform’ was approached, is the smartest and scaled pathway for ‘bench’ science and innovation to scale into the wider world, and also provide commercialisation pathways.

Small teams delivering iterative outcomes on top of ground-breaking science, which then partner with organisations that continue to build out the scaffold (called infrastructure here) yet not holding the small team back …then building trust and giving them time (OpenAI has been going to over 3 years with Microsoft and others…) can provide these foundational breakthroughs which change the world around us.

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