Microsoft sets the AI stage

After Google unveiled some sweet AI Workspace features, Microsoft reasserted its pole position in the AI arms race with a product it claims will “transform work as we know it.” 

What happened: Microsoft introduced 365 Copilot at its Future of Work with AI event yesterday. The new feature uses large-language model technology (the secret sauce behind the chatbot ChatGPT) to assist users in its 365 apps—think Clippy, but with superpowers.     

  • Microsoft put on an impressive display (in pre-recorded videos, to be fair), showcasing Copilot’s ability to generate PowerPoints from simple prompts, summarize Excel data, provide real-time recaps of Teams meetings, and more. 
  • Microsoft is testing Copilot with 20 customers, including Fortune 500 corporations, and will expand testing in the coming months before unveiling a price point. 

Zoom out: For any Big Tech company, generative AI offerings have gone from a “nice to have” to an “absolute must.” The newest entrant to the fray: Apple, whose teams (including the one focused on that faded AI starlet Siri) are experimenting with language-generating AI.

  • Condolences to companies whose AIs disappoint, like Baidu (aka China’s Google), whose stocks plummeted after the grand unveiling of its Ernie chatbot flopped. 

Why it matters: There’s no if, and, or buts about it: generative AI will soon be a daily part of your work life. And while it presents vast potential to increase productivity and blaze through grunt work, it also has left some people scared they’ll be out of work. So get ready. 

Plus: The pace at which these new AI products are being rolled out is a little concerning considering the danger AI poses and how much chatbots still get wrong.  And it’s extra concerning when Microsoft rolls out a product days after laying off its entire AI ethics team.