Microsoft 365’s AI-powered Copilot is like an omniscient version of Clippy

Enlarge / Microsoft 365 Copilot will try to automate content material technology and evaluation in the entire former Microsoft Workplace apps. Microsoft

Immediately Microsoft took the wraps off of Microsoft 365 Copilot, its rumored effort to construct automated AI-powered content-generation options into the entire Microsoft 365 apps.
The capabilities Microsoft demonstrated make Copilot look like a juiced-up model of Clippy, the oft-parodied and arguably beloved assistant from older variations of Microsoft Workplace. Copilot can routinely generate Outlook emails, Phrase paperwork, and PowerPoint decks, can automate information evaluation in Excel, and may pull related factors from the transcript of a Microsoft Groups assembly, amongst different options.
Microsoft is presently testing Copilot “with 20 prospects, together with eight in Fortune 500 enterprises.” The preview might be expanded to different organizations “within the coming months,” however the firm did not point out when particular person Microsoft 365 subscribers would be capable of use the options. The corporate will “share extra on pricing and licensing quickly,” suggesting the characteristic could also be a paid add-on along with the price of a Microsoft 365 subscription.
Demonstrating Copilot’s capabilities in Outlook.Microsoft
In a video demonstrating Copilot options, Microsoft presenters confirmed Copilot producing emails and PowerPoint slides based mostly on prompts. The core performance is predicated on a large-language mannequin (LLM) just like the ChatGPT 4-based mannequin used for Bing Chat, helped alongside by Microsoft Graph-supplied contextual info from elsewhere in Microsoft’s cloud. Microsoft says that Copilot’s LLM might be educated on information particular to a person enterprise, utilizing your information “in a safe, compliant, privacy-preserving means” to make Copilot’s output extra related.

Copilot was proven pulling in related photographs from OneDrive, inserting info from affirmation emails and calendar appointments from Outlook, and producing PowerPoint decks based mostly on the data in a Phrase doc. Copilot may also automate repetitive duties, like including animations and transitions to a PowerPoint slide present or fleshing out tough notes right into a extra polished doc for public consumption.

Conscious that AI content material turbines are vulnerable to factual errors and different bizarre errors (usually known as “hallucinations”), Microsoft emphasised that Copilot is most helpful for “first drafts” and “beginning factors.” It won’t get each single truth in an e mail or presentation proper, however customers will be capable of undergo and tweak textual content, photographs, and formatting to verify every thing is right. Copilot can be used in the course of the edit course of, making factors you’ve got written extra concise or routinely changing a picture in a PowerPoint deck with one other more-relevant picture.
“Generally, Copilot will get it proper,” stated Microsoft VP of Trendy Work and Enterprise Purposes Jared Spataro within the presentation. “Different occasions, it is going to be usefully fallacious, supplying you with an concept that’s not excellent, however nonetheless offers you a head begin.”
Microsoft additionally burdened its dedication to “constructing responsibly.” Regardless of allegedly shedding a complete staff devoted to AI ethics, Microsoft says it has “a multidisciplinary staff of researchers, engineers and coverage specialists” on the lookout for and mitigating “potential harms” by “refining coaching information, filtering to restrict dangerous content material, query- and result-blocking delicate subjects, and making use of Microsoft applied sciences like InterpretML and Fairlearn to assist detect and proper information bias.” The system will even hyperlink to its sources and observe limitations the place applicable.
Microsoft has been pushing AI-powered options in all of its greatest merchandise this yr, most notably within the Bing Chat preview, but in addition in Skype and Home windows 11. It is a part of a multi-billion-dollar partnership with OpenAI (the corporate behind the ChatGPT chatbot), the Whisper transcription expertise, and the DALL-E picture generator.