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Big tech companies are consuming as much data as possible to become AI winners – but that’s not necessarily what will determine the winners, according to the software giant’s boss Appian.

Matt Calkins, co-founder and CEO of Appian, said that although the Internet giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Google are spending billions on the technology, ensuring that success in AI is “not just about money.”

“AI is not a place where money makes more money,” Calkins told CNBC in an interview in the London office on Tuesday.

Calkins was referring to the high-profile deals that companies like Microsoft and Amazon are making with ambitious and fast-growing makers of foundational AI models like OpenAI and Anthropic.

Microsoft has invested a total of $13 billion in OpenAI, a deal that involves Microsoft getting a stake in OpenAI and the latter adding its GPT language models to the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant’s Azure cloud computing platform.

Microsoft struck a similar deal with Mistral, taking a 15 million euro ($16 million) stake in the French artificial intelligence firm.

In the case of OpenAI, Microsoft has a non-voting observer who sits on the company’s board.

This comes after a shocking series of events last year in which OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, was temporarily suspended before returning later after hundreds of OpenAI employees threatened a coup to join Altman at Microsoft.

Separately, Amazon has invested a whopping $4 billion in US artificial intelligence firm Anthropic, which is behind the Claude AI system. Amazon holds a minority stake in Anthropic, but has no seat on the board.

Google has also committed billions in funding to Anthropic, agreeing to invest up to $2 billion last year.

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This is a market for the smart. The fact that you have enough money to buy or buy part of Anthropic or Mistral or something like that, that’s impressive. But AI may not be a winner-take-all market.

For Calkins, whether or not these deals qualify as mergers that threaten AI competition, there will be room for innovators to thrive.

“If coalitions won the AI ​​race, Google would have won by now,” he said, calling for the US tech giant’s $500 million acquisition of British artificial intelligence lab DeepMind.

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Far from it, Calkins argues — instead, he thinks Google has lost out to Microsoft early on when it comes to generative AI, which threatens to upend the fabric of Google’s search business.

It follows a gaffe in which Google’s Gemini text-to-image generator produced inaccuracies in historic photos that went viral online. Google has paused generating images of people to improve the tool. CEO Sundar Pichai called the failure “unacceptable,” according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC in February.

Google was not immediately available for comment and contacted CNBC.

“It’s a market for the smart,” Calkins said. “The fact that you have enough money to buy or buy a piece of Anthropic or Mistral or something like that, that’s impressive. But AI may not be the winner-take-all market.

“There will be different AI algorithms for different purposes, and they will be much more or less valuable, depending on whether and how you’ve loaded your own data into them,” he added.

Calkins said the only way AI systems can become truly smart and useful is if they are able to understand what we want them to use in our daily lives.

“The best AI will be the AI ​​you put your data into, not the one that bought the biggest stack,” he said.

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