Microsoft is reportedly considering a $10 billion investment in San Francisco-based startup OpenAI, which owns ChatGPT. 

The artificial intelligence-based chatbot became available to the public in November and quickly garnered both praise and criticism for its ability to churn out reams of human-sounding text based on a few simple prompts. 

The chatbot is so convincing that schools across the United States are banning it from classrooms to prevent students from using it to cheat on assignments, and venture capital firms are looking into ways to use the tech in their daily operations. 

Microsoft is apparently a fan of the technology. The company invested $1 billion worth of cash and cloud credits into OpenAI in 2019, and now it could be looking to increase its stake. So what is it exactly, and why is one of the biggest tech companies in the world interested? 

ChatGPT uses what's called a "large language model" to read and translate text from a database and then predict future words in a sequence. This is similar to how Google Docs is able to predict the end of a sentence that you're writing, but ChatGPT is writing the entire sentence. The end result is something that sounds a lot like intelligent speech, but it's actually just a series of probabilities rapidly generated and then spit out for your reading pleasure (or displeasure). 

While ChatGPT can approximate human speech, oftentimes the actual content doesn't make sense. Just scan social media for examples of how silly ChatGPT's output can be. As one critic recently argued in The Atlantic, it currently functions more as a toy than a tool.  

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman also recognized that the technology has serious limits. 

"ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness," he tweeted in December. "It's a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now." 

That said, Altman is banking on continual improvements, which could explain why Microsoft is interested. 

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