If you’ve managed to avoid utilizing (or being utilized by) artificial intelligence (AI) programs until now, that might soon be about to alter. This week, Microsoft initiated the rollout of its version of generative AI, known as Copilot, which is becoming an integral part of its Windows 11 operating system and a vital feature of popular applications like Word, PowerPoint, and its Edge web browser.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
AI has emerged as one of the most hyped and despised technologies to emerge in years. The current batch of such programs are recognized as generative AI programs and are founded on extensive language learning models that gather and analyze text from all over the internet. The programs then strive to imitate human responses to inquiries and searches. The language technology has even been adapted to produce images based on typed requests (“Create a picture of a snowman shoveling snow in a blizzard.”) and analyze images to diagnose skin cancer.
The most recognized AI program, and the one utilized as a foundation for Microsoft’s Copilot program, is OpenAI’s ChatGPT. ChatGPT has been employed to take SAT exams, write term papers, pass medical exams, and even create TV scripts. It has gained such widespread attention that, as of last month, it had received approximately 1.5 billion visits by online users. In fact, it has caused such disruption that it is currently at the center of the Hollywood writers’ strike that has been ongoing for several months.
During the event in New York City, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the company’s own version of ChatGPT named Copilot. Instead of functioning as a standalone application, Microsoft intends to embed Copilot into numerous products. According to Nadella, Copilot will serve as “an everyday AI companion for you. You’re going to witness a lot of it.”
Nadella mentioned that Copilot will do nothing short of “predict your requirements,” commencing with an update to Windows 11 that will be accessible as of September 26. Subsequently, the Copilot feature will gradually appear in applications such as the Edge browser, Word, and Teams as it becomes available later this year in Microsoft 365 (business customers will be the first to experience it in November).
With the usual utopian technology embellishments, Nadella highlighted the numerous advantages of AI, such as employing it to plan a family vacation. For instance, Nadella explained how Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, would not only comprehend your flight preferences but also utilize past search results, chat conversations, and emails to determine your family’s preferences and make suggestions for sightseeing based on those outcomes.
Overwhelmed by the multitude of personal and work texts and the flood of emails? Nadella stated that all you will have to do with Copilot is ask, “Hey, what happened this week?” in order to sift through all your emails, text messages, and news feeds at once.
One of the most disconcerting applications of AI has been its capability to manipulate and generate realistic photos and images. Microsoft will also include this AI skill in its Image Creator. Users can, for instance, type “remove background,” and Image Creator will automatically make the edit. Utilizing the upgraded DALL-E 3 model, the program will offer even more authentic images with improved shadows and color gradations. Additionally, addressing concerns regarding online disinformation and misinformation, Microsoft stated that such images will have embedded content credentials, ensuring that each image is identified as being created using AI (this feature is not available for text or articles created by AI, though).
Since Copilot will be integrated into the Windows operating system, the AI program will have the ability to access all your stored files, applications, devices, and web activity. This permits it to perform tasks such as locating flight information stored on your phone and sending it to your spouse’s PC, summarizing a lengthy email and sending an abstract to your colleagues, or recognizing a complex equation and its relation to a graph that you copied and pasted (it will even provide an explanation on how to solve the problem).
Many of the highlighted features of Copilot are convenience-oriented, such as Bing providing better answers to inquiries (instead of merely listing links), having Edge act as a personal shopper, or tailoring search results to your individual preferences. Microsoft also mentioned that users will have the ability to deactivate some of these AI features.
Nevertheless, there is an overall uncanny nature to Copilot. For instance, you can type an ungrammatical, all-lower-case brain dump, and Copilot will generate a blog post from it within seconds (you can already test this with Bing Compose). Tired of replying to emails? Copilot will draft them for you and even utilize a new Sound Like Me feature that supposedly personalizes the email to, well, sound like you, down to how you typically sign off on your emails.
The accuracy of all these functions remains to be seen. ChatGPT, for example, is notorious for being prone to errors, citing false data, and even generating spurious information referred to by programmers as hallucinations. So, what if Copilot becomes confused and sends your boss a message with kisses and hugs (instead of sending it to your spouse)?
Microsoft CEO Nadella did not address these concerns during his Copilot presentation. Instead, he emphasized the revolutionary potential of generative AI, describing it as a “new phase in the development of the PC.”
Indeed, the vision is that regardless of the application you are using or your location – at work, at home, or on the road – “Copilot will always be there to assist you,” he stated.
While all of these features are intended to be advantageous, they may appear alarmingly threatening to many users, particularly considering the number of mistakes and outright fabrications that chat AI programs make.
Nonetheless, AI is becoming unavoidable. Last week, Google announced that it has already started incorporating its own generative AI program called Bard into applications like Google Docs, Gmail, and YouTube. Additionally, while Apple has noticeably lagged behind in the race to adopt AI, it is reportedly working on its own extensive language model solutions. Consequently, even if you choose not to upgrade to the most recent version of Microsoft’s Windows 11 – and we suggest waiting at least a couple of weeks until any bugs are resolved – avoiding AI programs may soon become impossible.
(No AI programs were utilized in creating this article.)
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