mazon said it plans to invest up to $4 billion in Anthropic, an AI developer known for developing language models like Claude 2, a competitor to OpenAI's ChatGPT.
Amazon, the world's largest provider of cloud infrastructure services through its AWS unit, will become the primary provider of computing processing power, also called compute, for Anthropic. The process of training and running advanced AI models necessitates a significant amount of computing, and many analysts anticipate future AI models will require increasing amounts of compute.
Amazon will also acquire a minority ownership of Anthropic, and Amazon's engineers will be able to incorporate Anthropic's AI models into their products and services, including Amazon's personal assistant, Alexa. Anthropic has also vowed to offer its models via Bedrock, Amazon's online platform where it hosts foundation models-broadly capable AI models that can be adapted for various tasks.
Anthropic was founded in 2021 after a group of OpenAI workers left over differences in their approach to AI safety. Since then, it has become a top foundation model developer.
Microsoft's partnership with OpenAI, which began in 2019, is similar to Microsoft's. The company has reportedly invested $13 billion in access to OpenAI's models, which include GPT-4, while offering OpenAI access to Microsoft's Azure cloud computing services. In 2014, DeepMind was acquired by Google for a price reportedly ranging from $400 million to $650 million, and merged with Google Brain to form Google DeepMind this year.
Amazon was the only company among the three large cloud computing companies without a significant investment in a foundation model developer. Amazon had chosen to offer Amazon access to a variety of foundation models produced by third-party developers, including Anthropic and Cohere. The Anthropic investment is a break from that strategy, Vipra, a research fellow at AI Now Institute, a U.S.-based nonprofit.
Although industry insiders have made much of Amazon falling behind Google and Microsoft, the gap between the companies is fairly small, according to Anton Korinek, an economics professor at the University of Virginia. However, in AI development, even being 12 months ahead, it makes a world of a difference, because the sector is so dynamic.
Over time, the increasing amounts of capital extended by cloud computing providers has led to their exerting more control over AI developers, Vipra said. Microsoft and OpenAI's relationship began as a partnership, but Microsoft's massive investment in OpenAI now means it has more say over how OpenAI is run. In June, Microsoft announced that it had released its Bing chatbot, GPT-4, by OpenAI's GPT-4, despite warnings from OpenAI that there were still issues to address.
Anthropic's leadership, as well as the leadership of many prominent AI developers, has warned that powerful AI systems could go off the rails or be misused. In order to understand how to build the most powerful AI models safely, they say they must continue to build increasingly large AI models. This intertwinement-it's one of the things that makes the problem hard-fought between the safety issues and the kind of inherent capabilities of the model, said Dario Amodei, Anthropic's CEO.
The engineers and researchers that create AI systems must have three inputs-compute, data, and human talent in the engineers and researchers who design algorithms. Although developers like Anthropic and OpenAI have had to partner with big tech companies to access compute, they still have an advantage when it comes to talent, Korinek said.
It's not going to be easy for larger, more bureaucratic organizations to attract the same talent, he said. As long as this advantage persists, Foundation Model Developers will be able to extract concessions from cloud providers they partner with, he said.
A report published by the competition and market watchdog, the nation's antitrust watchdog, raised concerns about collaborations between cloud providers and foundational model developers, such as Amazon's investment into Anthropic. A blog post published by the Federal Trade Commission in June raised similar concerns.