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Microsoft partners with Aptos Labs to build A.I. tools to help banks explore blockchain integrations on Azure



Since the A.I.-hype train reached full speed earlier this year, there’s been no shortage of crypto entrepreneurs trying to get a piece of the action. Developers have deployed ChatGPT-based assistants for a slew of blockchains, including Solana, Avalanche, and Bitcoin. Now, those behind the Aptos blockchain—a legacy of Facebook’s scuttled stablecoin project—have entered the fray—but with a key twist. 

On Wednesday, Aptos Labs announced that it had officially partnered with Microsoft to build what it calls the Aptos Assistant, a ChatGPT-powered chatbot that provides both users and developers information and analysis about the Aptos ecosystem. This is a more ambitious effort than some other crypto-related A.I., which have often revolved around licensing OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

The new A.I. integration is just one facet of a larger partnership between Microsoft, one of the key backers behind ChatGPT developer OpenAI, and Aptos Labs, which has already secured $350 million in funding from investors, according to Crunchbase.

As part of the tie-up, Aptos Labs will host validator nodes, or servers, that help secure a blockchain and process transactions on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. Github, a coding platform owned by Microsoft that is popular among developers, will also add Aptos’s programming language, Move, into Copilot, an A.I. model that auto-completes code for developers. And Microsoft will bring Aptos Labs into conversations with large financial institutions interested in building blockchain-powered applications on top of Azure.

“The intersection of AI and blockchain is one of the most interesting combinations of emerging technologies,” Rashmi Misra, general manager of A.I. and emerging technologies at Microsoft, said in a statement. “By fusing Aptos Labs’ technology with the Microsoft Azure Open AI Service capabilities, we aim to democratize the use of blockchain.”  

The Aptos-Microsoft tie-up comes at a time when AI startups have raised almost $25 billion in the first part of 2023, compared to around $3.6 billion for crypto ones.

Despite the dip in crypto’s influence relative to A.I., Mo Shaikh, cofounder and CEO of Aptos Labs, thinks that the two technologies aren’t counterposed. “If you look at a lot of the large models out there, they’re ingesting a lot of information that may or may not necessarily be true,” he told Fortune. ”What a blockchain actually provides is real information, verified information.”

And Shaikh says that, if A.I. models were to ingest data from a blockchain, they wouldn’t be nearly as prone to hallucinations, or false statements that chatbots like ChatGPT regularly cough up.

What this means in practice isn’t immediately apparent, but Shaikh says that elements of Microsoft’s partnership with Aptos Labs—an A.I. assistant, integration into Github Copilot, etc.—are part of a larger vision between the blockchain developer and tech giant. “We didn’t want to go off onto the side and just hack something together just for the hype of A.I.,” he said. “We wanted that deep integration and co-development.”.

Learn more about all things crypto with short, easy-to-read lesson cards. Click here for Fortune’s Crypto Crash Course.

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