Microsoft feared Google’s AI capabilities in 2019, email revealed

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The competition between Google and Microsoft is one of the biggest in the AI industry. Both companies have access to some incredibly powerful AI models, and they trade blows. However, a newly released email reveals that Microsoft feared Google’s AI capabilities just a few years ago. This may have prompted the company’s heavy investment in OpenAI.

It should be common knowledge now that Microsoft has invested a ton of money into open AI. In fact, it has injected more than $13 billion into the company so far. Many of us only got wind of Microsoft’s interest in OpenAI soon after ChatGPT hit the market in late 2022. However, the startup was on Microsoft’s radar years before that.

Microsoft feared Google’s AI potential

Right now, Google is still fighting its massive antitrust lawsuit. During the course of the lawsuit, we’ve discovered a ton of information about massive companies that were originally meant to remain behind closed doors. Well, a new bit of information just slipped through the cracks.

Apparently, Microsoft was a bit worried about Google’s AI capabilities back in 2019. Microsoft’s Chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, sent a pretty lengthy email to CEO Satya Nadella and Bill Gates. In it, he explained his fear of Google’s AI. “…as I dug in to try to understand where all of the capability gaps were between Google and us for model training, I got very, very worried.”

He also explained that it took the company six months to replicate what Google was doing with its BERT language model.  Scott also referred to Google’s auto-complete capabilities as “scary good.”

So, it was very far behind the competition. This is believed to have been the main thing that sparked Microsoft’s initial investment into open AI. We all know about the $10 billion that the company invested in OpenAI after ChatGPT began to pop off. However, back in 2019, Microsoft invested $1 billion into the company. That’s not to mention the frequent trips that Bill Gates made to OpenAI since 2016.

So, it’s obvious that Microsoft had AI as one of its core focuses over the years. However, it just didn’t show as prominently. Nowadays, Microsoft has implemented powerful AI features into most of its products including Microsoft 365 and Windows 11. It’s surprising to think that Google’s triumph in the AI space back in the day prompted its biggest competition to come to prominence.

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