plans to incorporate artificial-intelligence tools like ChatGPT into all of its products and make them available as platforms for other businesses to build on, Chief Executive
Speaking Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal panel at the World Economic Forum’s annual event here in the Swiss mountains, Mr. Nadella said that his company will move quickly to commercialize tools from OpenAI, the research lab behind the ChatGPT chatbot as well as image generator Dall-E 2, which turns language prompts into novel images. Microsoft was an early investor in the startup.
Microsoft said Monday that it is giving more customers access to the software behind those tools through its cloud-computing platform Azure. Mr. Nadella said at the panel Tuesday that the aim was to make Azure “the place for anybody and everybody who thinks about AI,” both for businesses and end users, including making ChatGPT available to business users.
“Every product of Microsoft will have some of the same AI capabilities to completely transform the product,” Mr. Nadella said.
OpenAI has been the center of the tech industry’s recent surge in excitement about AI, and Microsoft has been in advanced talks to increase its investment in the startup, the Journal has previously reported.
The lab has been in talks to sell existing shares in a tender offer that would value the company at around $29 billion.
Mr. Nadella said in the interview that the new excitement around the tools was based on the fast growth in their capabilities in the past year, something he said he expected to continue. “I’m not claiming by the way that this is the last innovation in AI,” Mr. Nadella said. “This is not linear progress.”
The Microsoft chief executive also struck an optimistic tone about the broader economic potential for tools like ChatGPT, which can quickly generate fluid-sounding text based on short queries or prompts. He said such tools are needed to boost human productivity, which he said would increase economic growth and wages for lower-income jobs. “We need something that truly changes the productivity curve so we can have real economic growth,” he said.
People with office jobs involved in so-called knowledge work should embrace the new tools, rather than assuming they will steal their jobs, Mr. Nadella said, citing the example of computer-software developers who currently use tools to help them generate some of the code they write.
“The best way to prepare for it is not to bet against this technology, and this technology helping you in your job and your business process,” Mr. Nadella said. Asked by a member of the audience about the impact of these tools on The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Nadella responded: “I think they’ll be able to write great articles in the future relying on
In the interview, Mr. Nadella also defended the software giant’s $75 billion acquisition of gaming company
Activision Blizzard Inc.,
which has come under criticism from antitrust authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the transaction, while the European Union has opened an in-depth investigation of the deal, a process that could potentially lead to a similar challenge.
Mr. Nadella said that his deal would boost competition. Microsoft has argued that it is a small player in videogame development and that it is trying to bulk up its game-development studio. It has said it won’t favor its own games on its Xbox consoles.
“Being a No. 4 player trying to add some content and create more opportunity for more publishers, more gamers to be able to enjoy—I mean if you believe in competition, you should believe in this deal,” Mr. Nadella said. “I hope the competition authorities get focused more on competition and that would be a good day.”
Write to Sam Schechner at Sam.Schechner@wsj.com
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