On March 16, Microsoft and Google announced their plans to bring next-generation AI tools as add-ons to their existing services. Microsoft’s AI-powered system called Copilot will soon be integrated into its 365 suite apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams.
Google, on the other hand, plans to embed AI into its Workspace apps such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet and Chat. The use of generative AI, which allows users to create new content, is the main feature of both Copilot and Workspace AI.
The systems are built on large language models (LLM) that are trained on massive amounts of data, enabling them to learn rules and patterns that can be applied to new content and contexts.
Copilot will help users expedite tedious or repetitive tasks such as writing, editing, and summarizing Word documents, turning ideas or summaries into full PowerPoint presentations, identifying data trends in Excel and creating visualizations, and “synthesizing and managing” their Outlook inbox.
It will also provide real-time summaries of Teams meetings and bring together data from across documents, presentations, email, calendar, notes, and contacts to help write emails and summarize chats.
Google’s Workspace AI will offer similar capabilities for paying subscribers. Both systems are integrated into existing cloud infrastructure, meaning all the data they are applied to will already be online and stored in company servers. The tools will need full access to the relevant content in order to provide contextualized responses.
However, concerns have been raised regarding algorithmic bias and security. The outputs of generative AI tools can be riddled with inaccuracies and prejudice.
Additionally, there may be underlying bias that can influence the writing style and language constructs understood by AI-driven systems.
As for security, cybercriminals could potentially use AI-assisted features to quickly collate and extract data from hundreds of files or emails.
Furthermore, since there’s so far no indication of offline versions being made available, anyone wanting to use these systems will have to upload the relevant content online, increasing the risk of data breaches.
Despite these concerns, the use of AI in everyday computing is a significant milestone in the advancement of technology.
If executed effectively, these AI tools can provide a major productivity boost for millions of people who use these apps each day.
The future of computing seems to be heading towards more automation and the integration of AI, and Microsoft and Google are leading the way.