As well as enhancing its own products, Microsoft’s commitment to artificial intelligence is making the world better too.
Just last year, Microsoft’s AI work made less than favourable headlines, when its Twitter bot, Tay, was subverted by a less-than-helpful public.
But that was just one small part of Microsoft’s ongoing push into artificial intelligence. Despite the Tay incident, Microsoft’s AI ambitions haven’t wavered, and in the last few days, we’ve seen some of the fruits of its labours. In just the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard how it’s using AI technology to tackle climate change and to help farmers in India to increase their yields.
That’s fantastic, of course, but it has no immediate relevance to Microsoft’s business customers. Worry not, though, because anyone who uses Office 365 will soon feel the benefits of the company’s efforts.
One of the big additions to Office 365 is Insights. This detects patterns in data in Excel spreadsheets, and from that produces pivot tables and trend charts - a great time saver.
Microsoft Word, meanwhile, will be enhanced by the addition of Acronyms. Like Insights, Acronyms uses machine learning to improve itself. In this case, it’s to learn internal abbreviations (technically, ‘acronyms’ is the wrong word – but we digress…) that commonly come up in a user’s workplace.
Office 365 users will also gain the ability to search for text within images. It was already possible to search for types of content, but with this update, users will now be able to extract searchable text. That’s great for things like getting details from photos of people’s business cards or searching for a particular purchase in a receipt.
Microsoft’s AI Is Getting Better All The Time
It’s clear from all this work that Microsoft intends to be right at the forefront of innovation in artificial intelligence. Its customers will naturally benefit, as the company’s discoveries and inventions find their way into products like Office and Windows.
But Microsoft’s AI plans are not merely designed for the betterment of big businesses. Instead, its intention is to democratise artificial intelligence, making it an accessible technology “For every person and every organization”.
Of course, Microsoft is not alone in AI research. Big names like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are also involved, not to mention countless smaller companies and startups. With that much investment behind it, the future of AI looks bright.