What Is MAI-1? Microsoft’s Big New In-House AI Model

The new model will have 500 billion parameters, reports say, making it the biggest Microsoft AI model yet.

Microsoft has invested over $10 billion into OpenAI, but it’s not resting on those laurels: The tech giant is reportedly working on another LLM of its own, internally titled “MAI-1.”

Reports have surfaced that this new model will have around 500 billion parameters, though the exact selling points and general purpose have yet to be settled.

It’s yet another move in the protracted battle for dominance in large language models, the nascent AI field that has yet to establish that it can change the world as much as it keeps saying it can.

What We Know About MAI-1

The model is still being developed and hasn’t been officially announced, so plenty of details remain unclear at this stage. But it’s a big model that can position Microsoft as a competitor with Google and OpenAI — the latter of which owes much of its own early success to Microsoft’s invested billions.

Microsoft has the huge amounts of data needed to training the MAI-1 model.

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Why is Microsoft creating a new model from scratch when it’s already a big investor in OpenAI and in the French startup Mistral? The tech corporation might be hedging its bets, given the regulatory scrutiny its current AI deals are undergoing.

MAI-1’s 500 billion parameters marks a larger amount than many models: Microsoft’s Phi-3 Mini was launched in March and just has 3.8 billion parameters, while Meta’s Llama 2 models has up to 70 billion parameters at last count.

Still, the number puts MAI-1 well below OpenAI’s GPT-4 and its reported one trillion parameters.

The Hunger Games of GenAI Companies

The model is under the auspices of Mustafa Suleyman, who previously served as CEO at AI startup Inflection. That startup sold its IP rights to Microsoft for $650 million a few months ago, in a deal that also saw most of its staff hired on at the tech giant.

However, according to The Information‘s scoop, MAI-1 is reportedly entirely built by Microsoft internally, and not a rebranded Inflection model — even if some training data and technologies may be carried over.

Before Inflection, Suleyman was at Google AI, yet another top AI big-business competitor. The shuffling around of AI workers may be reminicent of “Hunger Games but for GenAI companies,” as one LinkedIn commenter referred to this news.

Where Can I Get Started Learning About LLMs?

It might seem like there’s a new AI bot to learn about every single month. But if you’re a typical office worker in 2024, you’re probably just hoping to learn enough to stay competitive in the modern workforce.

You can start with learning AI prompts. Using the right conversational style can go a long way when requesting simple text responses from any popular generative AI. We’ve rounded up the best time-saving ChatGPT prompts for office workers over here.

If that’s not enough, you should consider taking an online course that can further explain the basics. This doesn’t have to cost you a cent: We’ve put together a look at the best free AI online courses as well.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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