Microsoft and Google are bringing AI to Word, PowerPoint, Google Docs, and other apps

Microsoft is adding new AI features to its popular applications such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. The new suite of tools, called Microsoft 365 Copilot, will let people do things like create PowerPoint decks with a short prompt or summarize meeting recordings.

Copilot runs on the same underlying AI technology that powers the buzzy viral chatbot ChatGPT, and is now being tested with a few business partners before a broader release to all users in the “coming months,” according to the company.

Image showing the co-pilot creating a PowerPoint presentation based on a simple prompt.

“Today we are at the beginning of a new era of computing,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a live announcement Thursday. Nadella said Microsoft’s new AI products “will take the drudgery out of our daily tasks and jobs, and allow us to rediscover the joy of creativity.”

while ChatGPT has captured the world’s attention In recent months, Microsoft’s moves will make this controversial and controversial technology more widespread. By integrating it into Office 365, Microsoft will put generative AI tools in front of its 1 billion-plus users, potentially reshaping how vast segments of the global workforce communicate with each other. Google, which is fiercely competing with Microsoft to bring artificial intelligence to the masses, Announce a similar integration of AI productivity tools in the Workspace suite of apps, including Gmail and Google Docs.

While new tools are full of potential to save people’s time by simplifying mundane tasks—everything from summarizing meeting notes to crunching numbers in spreadsheets—AI technology is also riddled with shortcomings. At the very least, it will take a lot of practice and human oversight to put this new generation of AI-powered software to good use.

Microsoft executives acknowledged the limitations of Copilot’s new tools at a demo on Thursday.

“Sometimes Copilot is just fine,” said Microsoft corporate vice president of Business and Modern Business Applications Jared Spataro. “Other times it will be usefully wrong.”

In a 40-minute demo, Microsoft shared more details about the new Copilot tools. He showed how the software would allow people to use natural language, along with the information they already have about you (files, emails, spreadsheets), to improve how its apps work for you. During the demo, Microsoft showed some really cool examples of this. There is one that can identify the main topics of a meeting through a recording or transcript and another that creates engaging PowerPoint presentations based on simple prompts. Copilot can also analyze Excel data and sort Outlook emails to highlight what you might want to read.

You will also be able to ask for help from a new Virtual Office Assistant. The chatbot pulls from AI models, Microsoft 365 apps, and users’ personal data, including their calendars, documents, meetings, and contacts. An explanatory video released by Microsoft on Thursday showed an example of a user asking a chatbot to prepare them for an upcoming meeting. The AI-powered assistant responded with a bulleted list of project and staff updates, organized by topic — for example, “Team updates: Matthew has returned from paternity leave” and “Sales updates: New contract completed.”

How all this works in the real world will depend on how well users adapt to the new AI features. Microsoft is rolling out Copilot to a small subset of customers right now and hasn’t yet announced a broad release timing.

There is no denying that daily office work is full of boredom. Not many people enjoy the joy of summarizing meeting notes, crunching numbers in spreadsheets, or drafting standard business memos. Microsoft’s idea is that you should let AI do it for you.

But as its Copilot name suggests, Microsoft is touting its tool as an assistant — unreliable perhaps — that’s very good at some things but will require quite a bit of hand-holding. like use ChatGPT for writing cover lettersRecruiting a co-pilot to take over aspects of office work will likely require a lot of directing, adjusting, and supervising. The new tool can pull information from your existing files, so it’s not flying blind, but it’s still important to read what Copilot writes and check the facts.

In other words, using the co-pilot will become a skill that you will have to learn. It’s no different than learning how to use Excel, Word or PowerPoint. Rather than needing to look up Excel formulas or have a good eye for design, asking Copilot to do these things will require you to learn how to talk to Copilot in a certain way, and to understand the correct language of the prompts as well as the limitations of the system. It’s supposed to be easier to use than PowerPoint, but how easy it is to see.

Interestingly enough, the necessity of something like Copilot also shows some of the shortcomings of Microsoft’s existing tools. Copilot helps people get more out of the technology Microsoft already has that can be too complex for people to fully use, according to Sumit Chauhan, vice president of the office products group at Microsoft.

“The average person uses less than 10 percent of what PowerPoint can do,” Chauhan said during Thursday’s presentation. “The co-pilot unlocks the other 90 percent.”

But it would be foolish to think that AI-powered applications from Microsoft and Google are already good enough to rule out white-collar office jobs. At best, these tools can help office workers do their work more quickly or brainstorm new ideas. As we’ve seen in ChatGPT’s general struggles – from how to get simple questions like movie times wrong to how their tone quickly goes from friendly helper to Deranged deserted lover Even the most advanced AI applications can still mess around a lot.

It is likely that Microsoft’s new tools will be no different. Even from Copilot’s polished demos, it was clear that the average user would need to fine-tune the AI’s output to make sure it was appropriate to send to his boss.

And there are even bigger concerns about appearing silly in front of your boss: Researchers have raised red flags that generative AI tools can spew out sexist, racist, or politically biased content. From a privacy perspective, technology companies will use the data they collect about users to train these AI systems. Those concerns didn’t help when I mentioned the platform this week Microsoft has laid off its ethics and community team, which was responsible for raising concerns about the rollout of new AI products.

In response to a question from Vox about concerns about the removal of the Ethics and Community team, Microsoft said it has “hundreds of people working on these issues across the company, including responsible and dedicated AI teams that continue to grow.”

Given these limitations and concerns, it only makes sense that Microsoft would make a small publication of these new tools. The company is currently testing it with 20 corporate clients, including eight Fortune 500 companies, in order to get feedback and improve the product.

Inevitably, the fact that Microsoft and Google are now racing to bring out AI-powered office software raises some questions about the nature of the business itself. These new AI tools will, in theory, remove some of the duller aspects of work. Microsoft executives used words like “toil” over and over throughout the presentation. But why do people do such a boring job to begin with? How much value do these businesses add to the world?

It is also possible that using AI to create more emails and slides will take more drudgery for the person who has to read them. But that’s not how Microsoft wants you to think.

“Copilot separates the signal from the noise and gives you hours of backwards time,” said Microsoft’s Chauhan. But what if you were only allowed to make more noise?

One of the major shortcomings of ChatGPT is that it can be middle And lengthy. When using it to write an article or draft a story, some users complained thats it It gives you a B level Student work. In a professional setting, this means that if someone wants to make Level B work better, they will need to spend some time tweaking it.

Until more people try it, it’s too early to say whether these new AI-powered desktop tools offer a positive network. But early evidence points to the idea that Microsoft’s new set of AI tools is called “Copilot” and not “Autopilot” for a reason — it still needs plenty of guidance from good old humans.

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