Chat GPT appears to have taken the world by storm — journalists can’t stop marveling at its AI-generated copies, programmers are raving about how it’s helpful in writing their code, and entrepreneurs seem to be willing to fund any companies that want to harness its potential . But an Indian company appears to have helped in its creation eight years ago.
Infosys had invested in Artificial Intelligence company OpenAI, which has released ChatGPT, all the way back in 2015. “Our wish is that together the OpenAI team will do unfettered research in the most important, most relevant dimensions of AI, no matter how long it takes to get there, not limited to just identifying dancing cats in videos, but to creating ideas and inventions that amplify our humanity,” then-Infosys Sikka Vishal Sikka had written in a blogpost in 2015.
Sikka had said that Infosys could benefit from OpenAI’s work. “Most of our work is in building and maintaining software systems, and AI will increasingly shape the construction and evolution of intelligent software systems, in all kinds of domains and industries, from complex machinery to consumer behavior, from medicine to energy,” he said. Sikka said an organization like Infosys, with its 1.5 lakh software engineers, would be a unique beneficiary and contributor to OpenAI.
Sikka had said that many parts of a large services company like Infosys’ work would transform fundamentally with AI, be it services like infrastructure management, business process outsourcing, and verification and maintenance of existing software. “We can massively migrate mechanizable work to automation, and instead build intelligent software systems, that amplify us, our abilities, as well as those of our customers,” he had said.
Infosys hadn’t been the only investor in OpenAI. In 2015, Elon Musk, along with Y-Combinator’s Sam Altman and several others had announced OpenAI, which they’d said would be a non-profit initiative which would aim to build AI that would benefit humanity as a whole. The company had received $1 billion in funding and grants from a host of companies and investors, including Infosys. In 2019, OpenAI had transitioned from being a non-profit to a “capped” for profit, which meant that investors could receive a maximum of 100x return on their invested capital.
Three years later, it appears that the 100-times cap was for good reason. OpenAI’s flagship AI chatbot Chat GPT-3 can write letters and emails, answer questions about anything under the sun, and even write code. The results are stunning, and almost impossible to differentiate from works produced by humans. While OpenAI hasn’t yet monetized the service, there’s buzz that it could now raise money at a $29 billion valuation, which would instantly make it one of the most valuable startups in the world. This will likely give Infosys a hefty payday, and much more importantly, an opportunity to be involved with a company that’s seems to have produced the most revolutionary new technology in recent times.