Dreaming of building an AI R&D lab? You'll need deep pockets: Tax filing reveals millions of bucks OpenAI alone spent on cloud ML compute

www.theregister.co.uk | 5/3/2019 | Staff
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The latest tax return forms filed by neural-network boffinry center OpenAI this year shows just how expensive it is to run an independent AI research institute without the financial backing of giant tech orgs.

The San Francisco-based lab recently effectively overturned its non-profit status to kickstart a for-profit spinoff to compete with the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and so on. OpenAI is now split into two parts: OpenAI LP, the bigger money-making side, and OpenAI Nonprofit, the smaller portion of the outfit focused on things like its OpenAI Scholars educational program.

Research - Development - AI - Networks - Tasks

Research and development in modern AI is costly. Neural networks typically perform well on specific tasks like image recognition or language translation after being trained on heaps of data, and then you usually have to start all over again for another task. Researchers often have to retrain their models several times to tweak its performance. All of this requires heavy computing resources, and renting out CPUs, GPUs, TPUs, whatever, you name it, is pricey. Buying the hardware and space for it all outright is a non-starter for independent or fledgling labs.

OpenAI’s income tax exemption form, filed [PDF] in March for 2017 when it was still a non-profit, revealed that it splashed out on a whopping $7.95m on cloud computing expenses that year. That’s more than double compared to the $2.33m spent in 2016. We were alerted to the filings this week by an industry source.

OpenAI - Projects - OpenAI - Five - Dota-2

Some of OpenAI’s largest projects such as OpenAI Five, the Dota-2 playing bots and GPT-2 and the giant language model, together enlisted more than 100,000 CPU cores and hundreds of GPUs and TPUs.

There’s also another money sucking component in AI research, too. Talent is hard to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: www.theregister.co.uk
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