Microsoft Office’s next big trick could be using artificial intelligence to write your documents for you

AI projects have made some impressive achievements recently, and in recent weeks, some of those efforts have already been implemented and captured public attention: OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which delivers text-based output, and Midjourney, which produces visually. Art pieces. Previous efforts have been backed by Microsoft for a few years now, and a new report suggests that Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office) may enlist the help of OpenAI to take the lead for you when it comes to answering emails, drafting documents, and more.

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OpenAI is a seven-year-old nonprofit founded by former Y Combinator president Sam Altman and other advocates of ethical AI research. ChatGPT relies on a large language model called GPT 3.5 to turn prompts into comprehensible text on almost any topic under the sun. Based on details obtained from several people familiar with Microsoft’s plans, the information indicates the company’s growing interest in integrating ChatGPT technology across product lines.

Not only could this kind of AI engine make Bing Search powerful enough to answer queries with whole sentences (instead of just giving you pages of links to click on), but we might also see its language “skills” being used throughout Microsoft 365. For something like Outlook, in addition to helping deliver more useful searches to your inbox, AI can automatically offer suggestions for responding to email—perhaps better than Google Smart Reply. AI-enhanced Word has the potential to be even more powerful, one day proofreading your documents, or scanning them to help eliminate jargon word picking.

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When asked, ChatGPT shares its own “understanding” of how it can be useful to the Microsoft Office suite

Other applications in the future may rely on customizing AI models based on individual user data, though Microsoft first wants to ensure complete privacy in such scenarios. This kind of training can make the AI ​​able to summarize meeting minutes, create images for presentations, and provide personalized notes in private to improve document and message drafts.

This is not an exhaustive list, and while these additions may improve Microsoft 365, the Satya Nadella-led company hasn’t always been willing to jump on the AI ​​bandwagon. An AI researcher told The Information that the company was “afraid people might not react well” to the use of AI. Perhaps the initial success of GPT in automating code generation for software developers and the incredible success of ChatGPT swayed Nadella in its favour.

Microsoft Word already uses its own AI-based tools for features like Smart Find, which allows you to search a document using a search engine-like query, and At a Glance (not a Google feature), which automatically creates bulleted feed lists for larger documents. GPT has already been involved as well, currently helping with Word’s predictive autocomplete feature.

Microsoft and OpenAI’s efforts to clear it up will hit hurdles, and technical concerns such as accuracy of information, originality of content, prevention of abuse, and risk of generating offensive output remain. Meanwhile, competitors like Google are feeling the heat, working on their own next-generation AI solutions.

Until Microsoft has anything to share publicly about OpenAI’s contribution to the Office suite and other products, you can hone your engineering skills on the fly (get ready for that to be a complete thing) on ​​the publicly available version of ChatGPT.

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