Microsoft employees were temporarily blocked from using OpenAI's ChatGPT. (Image by Shutterstock)

Microsoft employees were temporarily blocked from using OpenAI’s ChatGPT. (Image by Shutterstock)

Testing error restricts Microsoft employees from using OpenAI

  • Microsoft employees were blocked from using OpenAI chatbot ChatGPT.
  • An error in testing accidentally caused it, said Microsoft. 
  • OpenAI’s Sam Altman tweeted the rumors of ChatGPT retaliation untrue. 

It’s been almost a year since OpenAI’s ChatGPT started trending globally. Despite its global success, among both analystss and enterprises, the generative AI chatbot has been raising some eyebrows, especially when it comes to data security.

Given that the AI chatbot works on information available, organizations started getting worried when their employees fed the tool with company information to get tasks done. This resulted in some organizations banning their employees from using ChatGPT at work. As time went by, more organizations, especially those dealing with sensitive data, started limiting employee usage of the AI chatbot.

In fact, Samsung was one of the first few enterprises to ban its employees from using ChatGPT. The ban occurred after the company discovered that staff had uploaded sensitive code to the platform. It is important to note that any data that is uploaded into ChatGPT will become publicly accessible.

Apart from Samsung, banks and a few other regulated industries have either banned or limited the use of ChatGPT or any other AI tool at work. However, given the need to use AI at work, companies are now developing their own AI tools or working with tech companies that enable them to use AI more securely.

OpenAI itself realized the need for enterprises to have a more secure platform. As such, the company unveiled its Enterprise version, which is supposed to prioritize the security and privacy of customers using it.

Microsoft has invested heavily on OpenAI. (Image by Shutterstock).

Microsoft has invested heavily on OpenAI. (Image by Shutterstock).

Microsoft and OpenAI

For Microsoft, OpenAI’s innovations enabled it to improve its search engine, Bing, as well as develop other use cases. While the competition in the AI search engine field and other use cases remains high, Microsoft tends to have the upper hand, especially since it owns ChatGPT as well.

Since the release of ChatGPT, Microsoft has increased its investment in the company and is the exclusive cloud provider of Open AI. Microsoft invested around US$10 billion in the company, with OpenAI using Azure to train all of its models.

At OpenAI’s first DevDay Conference last week, Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella made a surprise appearance during OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s keynote to deliver a powerful message.

“Our job number one is to build the best systems, so you can build the best models and deliver those to developers. We’re excited about the latest announcements from OpenAI’s first DevDay event and want to highlight the opportunities it presents for all AI builders,” commented Nadella.

Altman echoed the sentiment of a strong and productive partnership with Microsoft.

“I think we have the best partnership in tech,” Altman told Nadella onstage.

“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. And to me, ultimately, AI is only going to be useful if it truly does empower… it’s about being able to get the benefits of AI broadly disseminated to everyone,” Nadella said.

A temporary glitch?

A few days after the big conference, CNBC reported that for a brief time on November 9th, Microsoft employees were not allowed to use ChatGPT at work, due to “security reasons.”

Citing an internal website, CNBC stated that Microsoft had updated its employees that the block was due to security and data concerns and that a number of AI tools were no longer available for employees to use. CNBC also viewed a screenshot that showed that ChatGPT couldn’t be accessed on corporate devices.

Microsoft blocked and unblocked ChatGPT for employees.

Microsoft blocked and unblocked ChatGPT for employees.

Microsoft informed CNBC that the ChatGPT blockage was a mistake that resulted from a test of systems for large language models. It added that services were restored once the error was identified.

“As we have said previously, we encourage employees and customers to use services like Bing Chat Enterprise and ChatGPT Enterprise that come with greater levels of privacy and security protections,” the company said.

Microsoft and OpenAI continue to work together on developing the technology. So, when the block happened, many users were quick to voice their concerns on social media about the potential impact it could have on both companies.

Soon enough, the rumor mill started and social media started seeing baseless claims being made about the incident.

This was also why Altman was quick to tweet that “the rumors that OpenAI are blocking Microsoft 365 in retaliation are completely unfounded.”

Altman was quick to crush the rumors of Apoen AI blocking Microsoft.

Altman was quick to crush the rumors.

While this remains very likely true, the rumor mill will probably continue to grind the story down, because the idea of billion-dollar companies behaving like an old married couple is a much better – and more fundamentally pleasing – story than one of technological error during testing.

If it happens again though, observers will be justified in drawing more significant conclusions.