The age of artificial intelligence is here and this week only Google and Microsoft announced major changes to their respective offerings for the general public. While Google announced the “experimental conversational AI service” known as Bard earlier this week, Microsoft had a fuller list of announcements to announce at its press conference held in Redmond, WA today. Through the partnership together with ChatGPT manufacturer OpenAI, Microsoft is adding new and more sophisticated AI conversations to provide improvements on Bing as well as well-integrated AI
The company’s keynote this morning took place at a rapid pace, with demos flying by at such a rapid pace that it was difficult to understand the new features. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to glimpse an entire demo with Dena Saunders of Bing Engineering. It was great to be able to view the entire thing at a much more understandable pace, however, it was sadly limited to scripted examples. I was able to access Preview Bing Bing around 2:15 pm and required the developer channel of Edge to view the latest features.
In general, four major new areas are that are coming into Bing (and we’ll be getting to Edge in the future) The four areas are Chat, Search, Answers, and Create. The first is the new search bar. Instead of your usual long single-line bar, it now has an interface that is more like those found on Twitter or Facebook which prompts users to Bing any question they want to ask. The limit for characters is now 1000 characters. The goal is to make seeking answers more conversational, as Google has done for several years.
If you type in your query, the results appear different. The left-hand side of the page is a column that displays your usual “answers” just like how you get them on Bing right now. To the right, there is the box that explains how the system came across these answers and even initiates a chat. I initially thought that this was the kind of thing Google does with the “About this search” panels however, I was mistaken. The box is the place for the AI and it fills with text that is displayed in real-time including animations and the “Stop responding” button if you don’t have the patience to follow an explanation from the AI. While using the preview the new features did not appear on my initial couple of searches, but they did show up later on.
Chat, create, and chat in Bing
The third and fourth components are the most exciting new features. Chat, for instance, is a fresh way to find solutions to the issues you’re seeking solutions to. It’s possible to access the Chat page via Bing’s results page. Bing Results page, for instance. You can access it by pressing the Chat icon above the results, or by scrolling upwards (swiping to the left on mobiles). If you’re there you can carry on the conversation regarding your current search, or click the Broom icon in that text input box to wipe the slate.
This page provides more concrete proof of the idea of having an AI copilot. It’s an example of ChatGPT as well as any chatbot you might have had a conversation with when receiving technical support from your bank or site. However, the results that Bing’s Prometheus model can provide are certainly more remarkable. The outputs it can return together with the inputs it understands make it more flexible and, consequently, more efficient.
You can, for instance, instruct it to make itinerary plans for your trip or meals using specific parameters. It’ll provide you with a list of the things you need to make or do every day. The demonstrations I watched included the creation of a “3-day itinerary for Snoqualmie” or “vegetarian meal plan with chocolate included in the dessert” and, each time, Bing presented the plan in simple, clear English that did not just meet the specifications but also referenced its sources. It didn’t take long for the system to give the outcomes — we required between 5 and 10 seconds on the test Surface laptop. If the system is in the process of processing it, you’ll see a “Stop Responding” as well “Stop responding” button to stop waiting for results if you’re in a hurry.
I requested Bing to come up with plans for a six-day vacation with my family in Los Angeles, which would have been useful during my time off this past week. It took two attempts using different words before I had the results I was expecting however, Bing was able to come up with. It suggested places and attractions that my friend also suggested and that’s great although I’m yet to thoroughly examine the program to determine whether it is logical geographically and also on time.
I also utilized one of the suggestions in the preview for Bing to build an exercise that took me 30 minutes that focused on the abs and arms, with no gym equipment, and with no situps. The plan that resulted was made up of several exercises, which included 3 sets with 10 reps each of crunches, dips, and crunches all appeared to be solid. Bing used a variety of sources to create this program. It also referenced its sources when it generated the phrases that meant it was creating something instead of simply reciting an article.
Similar to other chatbots Bing’s chat has the capability of recognizing the context. In the demonstration, Saunders asked for spots to snap photos after asking for a three-day itinerary for Snoqualmie and Bing replied with picturesque places in the same area. When I asked about a 30-minute exercise for arms and abs I responded using “how about an hour” and Bing was clever enough to follow up with a suggestion to add further exercises, suggesting more activities to complete and suggesting I repeat the initial exercise twice.
I answered several follow-up questions for other search results, and listing the entire list would take forever. It suffices to say that conversations generally were very natural and context-rich in a way that very few other AI chatbots have managed to achieve.
The Edge browser comes with an AI copilot that is built-in
With the brand new Edge the button at the top right of the screen will let you access the chat feature of Bing inside your internet browser. However, it’s more than just answering your queries without needing to leave the webpage you’re looking at. Edge can aid in the understanding of the websites you’re browsing and help aid in making research or multitasking more efficient.
Today, during its keynote, Microsoft showed how it was able to utilize Bing to present Gap’s quarterly report and provide not just the key points but also highlights from the financials. When I downloaded the report’s PDF on Gap’s investor relations website and requested Bing (in Edge) to provide me with the most important points, it provided me with information about Gap’s performance in small snippets of information. I asked for “financial highlights” and the system provided me with six bullet points that listed Net sales and net losses gross margin operating loss as well as Cash and equivalents, and Free Cash Flow. Each item included the dollar value and the way it was compared to last year’s performance.
It’s even more impressive that Edge can find an earnings report for another company from the chat window, without opening a separate tab to look at the data. It can then instruct Edge to generate tables that analyze both companies, side by side. This function worked in my test of the new Edge was a huge surprise to me and I could already imagine using this feature to evaluate the specs of the upcoming phones.
For this post that’s hands-on, I consulted the Compose feature, which can be used to write essays, articles, or posts. I wanted Bing to compose an email for me to persuade our video editor Brian Oh to come on the trip in the direction of Microsoft in Seattle together with me. There were several choices to pick from in terms of tone (funny professional, casual informational, or enthusiastic) as well as the format (paragraph email, paragraph article, or idea) along with length (short lengthy, or medium). Below is a “Generate draft” button, which will display the draft in a box beneath it, and below it is a link to “Add to site.” By clicking that, you can send the words that are generated to the web page with the cursor of your choice.
The prose that resulted read as the words of a human with correct punctuation and grammar (except at places where it is more normal to not follow the rules of grammar). The tone was set as “funny” and while some of the AI’s attempts at comedy were funny, they were mostly subdued. For instance, after a letter praising the advantages in Seattle and Microsoft, the AI said “So, what do you say? Are you in or are you out? Please say yes, because I already booked your ticket and hotel room. Just kidding, I didn’t.”
This isn’t my style, however, it’s something that someone funny could write. If you’ve ever played with ChatGPT and ChatGPT, this may feel similar. The integration of your browser allows the effortless transfer of AI-generated content into, say emails or social media websites This makes it very easy.
I’m feeling like I’ve only even begun to understand the capabilities that Bing and Edge will do and the limited time I’ve had with the preview thus far seems like a mere snippet of time. I’m going to continue to experiment with the latest features and to see what life can be like with an AI copilot in my online adventures, so this is surely not the last time I’ll write about Microsoft’s latest offering.
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