AI gold rush continues as Microsoft invests $1.5B in UAE's G42

Can regulators keep up?

Microsoft has confirmed a $1.5 billion investment in G42, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) AI biz.

The splurge is intended to deliver AI solutions using Azure across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. According to Microsoft, the agreement is backed by assurances to the US and UAE governments that best practices will be used to "ensure the secure, trusted, and responsible development and deployment of AI."

The pace of expansion and the sums involved threaten to overwhelm efforts by lawmakers to regulate the technology. The European Parliament enacted the world's first legislation designed specifically to address the risk of artificial intelligence earlier this year, and governments including the US and UK administration are also taking a keen interest.

Yet the relentless advancement by tech giants continues, and even lawsuits over the alleged use of copyrighted works to train chatbots have done little to slow the rate at which dollars are being pumped into the technology.

Microsoft's investment is potentially risky. According to a report in Bloomberg, deals had to be made behind the scenes to ensure G42 opted for US technology rather than Chinese. As well as adding Brad Smith, Microsoft Vice Chair and President, to its board of directors as part of Microsoft's investment, G42 has reportedly had to remove some Chinese tech from its systems to appease US authorities.

Microsoft has invested heavily in the Middle East. It has Azure regions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and in 2022, it opened a cloud region in Doha, Qatar.

The announcement comes after the DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, chief of Google's AI business, was reported by Bloomberg as saying that Google plans to spend more than $100 billion on developing AI tech.

The remrk from Hassabis was in response to a question at a TED conference in Vancouver regarding Microsoft and OpenAI's rumored plans for Stargate – effectively a datacenter that is, for all intents and purposes, an AI supercomputer.

According to a piece in The Information, the cost of the Stargate project could hit $100 billion. Hassabis said that Google intends to invest more over time.

Microsoft's investment and Google's response to the Stargate project indicates that although some authorities might wring their hands over ethics and safety, as long as the dollars keep flowing, the growth of AI hype techn appears unstoppable. ®

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