Microsoft is unveiling a groundbreaking addition to its suite of office apps, the Microsoft 365 Copilot. Developed in partnership with OpenAI and set to be accessible to all users starting from November 1st, this ChatGPT-style AI assistant promises to revolutionize the way we handle meetings, emails, and documents.
Streamlining Meeting Summaries
One of Copilot’s standout features is its ability to summarize meetings conducted through Microsoft Teams. Users who choose not to attend can rely on Copilot to provide concise and accurate summaries, effectively saving valuable time.
A Productivity Powerhouse
Copilot goes beyond meeting summaries; it can also draft emails, generate word documents, create spreadsheet graphs, and craft PowerPoint presentations with astonishing speed and precision. This newfound efficiency could redefine office productivity.
The Responsibility Factor
While Copilot offers remarkable assistance, concerns have arisen regarding its transparency and adherence to AI regulations. Both Europe’s AI Act and China’s AI regulations stipulate that interactions with AI should be transparently identified as such. Collette Stallbaumer, head of Microsoft 365, emphasized the individual’s responsibility to clarify their use of Copilot, although the European Union argues that the onus falls on AI tool developers to ensure responsible usage.
Exclusive Insights from a Trial Run
During an exclusive trial, it became evident that Copilot is not just a useful tool but also a formidable colleague, especially for individuals engaged in office work. It swiftly summarized lengthy email chains, proposed responses, and even generated warm, personalized email content. It effortlessly produced a PowerPoint presentation based on a Word document’s content, complete with suggested narration.
AI-Powered Meeting Insights
Copilot’s capabilities extend to Microsoft Teams meetings, where it identifies discussion themes, provides thread summaries, and charts pros and cons of debates. It cannot, however, evaluate individual performance or speakers.
The Future of Office Work
As impressive as Copilot may be, questions linger about its impact on traditional office dynamics. Will it render physical meetings obsolete, or might meetings transition into webinars, as suggested humorously by a Microsoft staff member?
Cost and Connectivity
Microsoft plans to offer Copilot for $30 per month (approximately £25 in the UK), but it will require an internet connection, as it does not function offline.
Potential Disruption and Dependency
Critics have expressed concerns that the adoption of such AI technology may disrupt administrative jobs and lead to overreliance on these tools. Carissa Veliz, an associate professor at Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics in AI, raises valid concerns about technical failures, security breaches, policy changes, and dependency on AI systems.