Microsoft applies AI powers to Excel, Outlook

Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has gone ahead with infusing ChatGPT-like technology into the software giant’s offerings despite concerns it could go off the rails and lead to nasty or inaccurate responses.

Microsoft pushed ahead with its AI revolution on Thursday, announcing that it would apply the powers behind ChatGPT to its iconic Excel, Word and Outlook programs.

The Redmond, Wash.-based giant has been a quick embrace of language-based AI, showing less caution than rivals despite teething problems such as chatbots giving disturbing responses or grossly inaccurate information.

Microsoft’s latest chatbot, called Copilot, will put ChatGPT-like capabilities to work in offices, producing meeting transcripts, calendar entries or PowerPoint slides almost instantly.

The central idea of ​​the new version is that generative AI, the term for ChatGPT-style capabilities, will work as an assistant for users of Microsoft’s popular workplace software and not unilaterally take over office tasks.

“You could say we’ve been using AI on autopilot and with this next generation of AI, we’re going from autopilot to co-pilot,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at a virtual launch event.

Microsoft is investing billions of dollars in OpenAI, the company that is building the technology that powers ChatGPT and which released its latest version, GPT-4, on Tuesday.

That technology, which OpenAI says can be driven by both images and text, is already the basis of a chatbot on Microsoft’s Bing search engine that is gaining more users thanks to AI adoption.

Other tech giants are taking a more cautious approach to generative AI, fearful of the embarrassment that comes when the technology goes off the rails.

Google’s cloud computing arm said this week that it will provide testers with ways to “infuse generative AI” into apps or put them to work on the internet titan’s own platform.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last month that the parent company of Facebook and Instagram was building a product group to find ways to “speed up” its AI work.

© 2023 AFP

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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