AI Insights from Microsoft Build 2023

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Technology Keynote Highlights

Build 2023 has been a whirlwind so far, packed with game-changing revelations and developments. Positioned near the front of the Keynote Sessions, I had the privilege of taking in the Microsoft Build keynote alongside Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft), and Greg Brockman (President & Co-Founder of OpenAI.)

It’s clear technology developments here today, as well as recent announcements from Google, and the congressional hearings in the US, that what’s unfolding here will be instrumental in shaping the trajectory of society.

AI Plugins and CoPilot

It seems like Microsoft has been busy with ChatGPT - deciding that it will use the same plugin standard as OpenAI, so right out of the gates, Microsoft’s new copilot offerings are provided with a whole host of integrations, such as Expedia or Open Table, ready to go.

Thinking about the launch of Dynamics 365 Copilot and M365 Copilot, imagine using Copilot to book a restaurant to meet with a friend or colleague, and then having that booking automatically added to your calendar. This is the power of plugins.

This move demonstrates the consumer tech’s infiltration into the more extensive Azure ecosystem.

Transitioning from consumer to developer tools, Microsoft’s enhancements in its developer experience tooling are also a strong focus. As a Microsoft AI MVP with a keen interest in cognitive search, the upcoming Vector Search features, soon to be released in preview, have me particularly excited.

In simple terms, vectors are a way of storing and finding information flexibly and simply - instead of just searching for exact matches, a vector search can find things that are similar or related, even if they’re not exactly the same.

Think of a line where ‘yes’ is at point 0 and ‘no’ is at point 1. Now, if you have other words or phrases, you can ‘project’ them onto this line based on how similar they are to ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example, ‘maybe’ might land somewhere around the middle, at point 0.5, because it’s somewhat yes and somewhat no.

It’ss a bit of a simplification, but it gives an idea of how vector search works. With this feature, Azure Cognitive Search will be able to ingest text, images, or audio and video in a single go, offering a native solution for searching across broad data sets. This is precisely the type of search needed to provide grounding data to models like GPT. You can learn more and sign up for the preview here.

Azure Machine Learning and Prompt Flow

Further enhancing its developer tools, Microsoft is integrating what it dubs as ‘Prompt Flow,’ which lets you create a GPT as part of a broader workflow within Azure Machine Learning service. Discover more about Prompt Flow here.

So, what do these changes mean for you? Simply put, Microsoft continues to democratise the access to the latest AI models, imbuing AI into Power Automate and Power Apps, and seemingly working towards a vision of AI for everyone.

Society continues to be shaped

However, as we revel in these advancements, it’s crucial to contemplate whether society is prepared for these technologies.

From grappling with disinformation and generated content on social media, all the way through to the implications of automation of various aspects of roles and jobs on our own personal esteem and identity, there are tons of social considerations we can’t afford to overlook.

While technology companies are not solely responsible for fixing these challenges, we do need a joint effort to create this kind of “societal immune system” with support from government, media, and the general public.

With more revelations anticipated from Microsoft Build 2023, find out more information in Microsoft’s Book of News.