Microsoft will provide ChatGPT expertise that firms can customise: supply

Microsoft plans to release software later this year to help big companies create their own chatbots similar to ChatGPT, CNBC learned.

In the two months since the startup opened OpenAI ChatGPT to the public, it became a hit and wowed people with its ability to spit out comments on a variety of topics and in many styles. UBS analysts said last week it’s on track to hit 100 million monthly active users faster than video-sharing app TikTok.

Microsoft tries to use the attention in different ways. The company provides the cloud computing backend for ChatGPT, and in January Microsoft said it had invested billions of dollars in OpenAI. Microsoft has also worked to integrate OpenAI technologies into its own products. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it is enhancing Bing, its search engine, and Edge, its web browser, with ChatGPT-like technology.

Additionally, Microsoft plans to announce technology for businesses, schools and governments to create their own bots using ChatGPT, according to a person who was briefed on the matter and asked not to be named while discussing private plans. Microsoft envisions helping customers launch new chatbots or refine their existing ones with the new technology, which could suggest answers for call center agents to use during customer service calls, the person said.

ChatGPT’s underlying artificial intelligence model is currently unable to provide substantive answers for everything that happened after 2021 as it has not been trained on current information. But Microsoft intends for chatbots launched using its ChatGPT service to include up-to-date information, the person said.

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The service should also provide citations on specific resources, the person said, just as the new Bing and Edge will. (The current public version of ChatGPT does not give any sources.)

Running ChatGPT didn’t come cheap for OpenAI. Each chat is likely to cost “single-digit cents,” CEO Sam Altman said in a December tweet, hinting that providing chats to 100 million people a month could cost millions of dollars. Like other cloud infrastructure providers, Microsoft is mindful of customer spending and probably doesn’t want the service to end up costing customers much more than they imagined. To that end, the tech company plans to provide customers with tools to estimate and limit spending, the person said.

Microsoft has also talked about letting enterprise customers display a custom message before interacting with their chatbots, similar to how the new Bing displays a splash screen indicating it can respond to complex questions and provide information.

Additionally, Microsoft wants to offer customers ways to upload their own data and refine the voice of their chatbots, and it intends to let customers replace Microsoft and OpenAI branding, the person said.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, arch-rival Google is pushing similar plans with its own technology. On Monday, Google parents alphabet announced an AI chatbot called Bard, and CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in an internal email that developers and companies will soon be tasked with testing an API that will allow them to access the underlying LaMDA technology.

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