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OpenAI’s recent acquisition could change PCs forever

A screenshot of Multi's website that shows an example of the application.

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, has announced that it has acquired a startup company called Multi, indicating that some powerful new capabilities could be coming to its AI systems. Multi is an advanced screensharing and collaboration tool made specifically for software engineering teams in mind, allowing for features such as shared cursors and simultaneous screensharing with up to 10 people.

That startup is being shut down in its acquisition to OpenAI, however, having posted this statement on their blog:

“What if desktop computers were inherently multiplayer? What if the operating system placed people on equal footing to apps? Those were the questions we explored in building Multi, and before that, Remotion. Recently, we’ve been increasingly asking ourselves how we should work with computers. Not on or using computers, but truly with computers. With AI. We believe it’s one of the most important product questions of our time.”

That’s definitely some provocative positioning, especially in regard to making PCs “inherently multiplayer.”

Speculation about how Multi features might be integrated into ChatGPT AI systems has since been making its way through X (formerly Twitter).

OpenAI just acquired this startup that basically lets someone remotely control your computer…

i think we can all guess how this might fit in with ChatGPT desktop… 👀👀👀👀

— andrew gao (@itsandrewgao) June 24, 2024

One user, a student developer, speculated that the collaboration and remote management functionality could come to the ChatGPT desktop app, which was announced for Mac earlier this year. That would enable things like ChatGPT to “draw on your screen” or “edit code” on your behalf.

Some were excited about the idea, and understandably, others expressed some concerns about the security or privacy concerns of letting an AI system take over your PC.

We’ve seen both Microsoft and Apple begin to tackle the idea of integrating AI systems deeper into PCs through the operating system, including the Recall feature in Copilot+ PCs and the Apple Intelligence in Apple Silicon Macs.

It makes sense, though, for OpenAI to begin to explore this arena on its own. Could Multi help AI escape the confines of the app itself to control your PC all on its own? We probably won’t know for a while, but the acquisition certainly ports over a key piece of technology that could make it happen.

Luke Larsen
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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