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Microsoft announces new AI office in UK

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Microsoft is opening a new office in London dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) research and development.

The tech firm’s AI boss Mustafa Suleyman said it will advertise roles for “exceptional individuals” in the coming weeks and months.

But he has not said how many jobs will be created.

Microsoft is a major investor in ChatGPT-creator OpenAI, which itself opened an office in London in 2023.

“There is an enormous pool of AI talent and expertise in the UK,” said Mr Suleyman in a blog post.

“Microsoft AI plans to make a significant, long-term investment in the region as we begin hiring the best AI scientists and engineers into this new AI hub.”

Mr Suleyman co-founded AI research lab DeepMind in the UK, which was bought by Google in 2014.

He launched his own AI start-up, Inflection AI, in 2022, before joining Microsoft in March.

He said AI engineer Jordan Hoffmann – who also worked for DeepMind and Inflection – will lead work at the new office.

“Microsoft AI London will drive pioneering work to advance state-of-the-art language models and their supporting infrastructure,” said Mr Suleyman.

And he praised the UK’s “safety-first” approach to AI – a week after UK technology secretary Michelle Donelan signed an agreement with the US to collaborate on testing advanced AI models.

Viscount Camrose, the minister for AI, told the BBC the new London hub was a “vote of confidence in the UK’s status as a global leader in AI innovation”.

“The UK is home to a thriving AI sector, employing over 50,000 people across the country and contributing £3.7 billion to our economy,” he said.

“Thanks to our pro-innovation approach to AI, we continue to attract the top talent and businesses from across the globe.”

Mr Suleyman said the new UK office would “collaborate closely” with staff at OpenAI, which it has invested heavily into.

Microsoft previously said it would be building on its initial $1bn (£790m) investment in OpenAI with a “multi-year, multi-billion” partnership at the start of 2023.

It has since pledged its support to OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, especially during his chaotic removal and reinstatement at the helm of the firm in November.

Since then Microsoft has become the world’s most valuable listed company, with its market value reaching more than $3tn.

“Microsoft AI opening a new hub in the heart of London is another feather in the cap of the capital’s burgeoning tech ecosystem,” said Russ Shaw, founder of campaign group Tech London Advocates.

He said the announcement of its London office “should be seen as a huge vote of confidence for the UK from one of the global tech industry’s major players”.

“AI is already helping people to work more efficiently and creatively, and it’s vital for the UK’s status as a world-leading tech ecosystem that it remains at the forefront of research and innovation into the technology,” he added.

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