Sam Altman shares the next steps for AI at Microsoft Build


Open AI CEO Sam Altman chats with Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott at Microsoft Build. 

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

The last two weeks have seen back-to-back announcements from OpenAI and Google, and now it’s Microsoft’s turn. OpenAI has been a key partner in Microsoft’s AI journey, having lent the technology underlying ChatGPT to the tech giant. As a result, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman made a surprise appearance at the company’s annual developer conference, Microsoft Build. 

On Tuesday, at the end of the opening keynote, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott invited Altman to join him on stage to share his insights on the company’s recent AI developments and what is to come. To start the conversation, Scott invited Altman to share what has surprised him the most about AI in the past year. 

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“I have never seen a technology get adopted so quickly in such a meaningful way—what people are building, how people are finding out how to do things that we never thought possible—which is why it’s always great to have an API. That’s been really cool to see,” Altman said. 

OpenAI offers a series of APIs that developers can incorporate into their existing projects, unlocking many new AI applications that benefit consumers everywhere. Altman shared that OpenAI values the work developers do, and that the company has been purposeful about building APIs that are convenient for them. 

“The more this [the API] can just be a layer that gets built into every layer, every service, the better, and we tried to make it such that if you want to add intelligence to whatever you are doing, any product, any service, we make that easy,” Altman said. 

Regarding the future of AI, Scott prompted Altman to share — without revealing explicit details — what the public should look forward to the most.

“The most important thing sounds like the most boring, obvious, trite thing I can say, but I think it is actually much deeper than it sounds,” Altman said. “The most important thing is that the models are just going to get smarter—generally, across the board.”

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Altman invited the audience to consider the growth that occurred between GPT 3 to 3.5 to 4: that each model got smarter, more robust, safer, and more useful. According to Altman, the next developments will offer similar growth with greater intelligence and utility. 

In terms of specifics the public should expect in future OpenAI models, Altman shared that the company cares about speed, cost, and multimodality, pointing to the fact that GPT-4 halved both its token price and latency, while the recently released GPT-4o introduced Voice Mode. 

Before wrapping up, Altman offered advice for developers navigating this unprecedented time in AI, encouraging them to follow the momentum of the major platform shift the industry is witnessing. He compared it to the evolution that followed the mobile phone boom and the emergence of the internet.

“My biggest piece of advice is this is a special time and take advantage of it,” Altman said. “This is not the time to delay what you were planning on doing or wait for the next thing.” 

Also: Microsoft’s Build 2024: 10 quick developer focused announcements you need to know about

At Microsoft Build, Microsoft continued to leverage OpenAI models to optimize its own services, announcing the general availability of GPT-4o, which OpenAI just launched last week, in Azure AI. 

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