New tech booms occur every few decades. In January 2007, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, marking the beginning of the smartphone era. This has led to the decline of traditional PC brands while Apple, Samsung, and various Chinese smartphone companies have emerged as major players in the tech industry. Microsoft has made a comeback under Satya Nadella, Google continues to grow through Android and other initiatives, and Amazon has become a behemoth.
Social networks peaked, but the last five years have been tough. Semiconductors, the cloud, and AI have been hot topics. ChatGPT 3.5, released in December, caused a sensation by combining silicon, the cloud, and AI to create a new assistant and generative AI. It’s a huge step up from previous assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa, and Bixby.
OpenAI, in partnership with Microsoft, has sparked a generative AI revolution that could be as significant as the original iPhone’s introduction. Brace yourself for a new arms race in the generative AI space with the launch of GPT-4 and Anthropic’s Claude.
Microsoft has taken over a space that was thought to belong to Google. Satya Nadella wants Microsoft to make Google dance, just as Google made Microsoft dance in the 2000s.
Two other major players to consider in this field are Meta and Amazon, as well as startups like Anthropic which have received funding from Google.
Bing & GPT-4
OpenAI’s GPT-4 is more accurate than its predecessor and understands text and images. Microsoft has also revealed that Bing search engine uses GPT-4 as it was suspected by many.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spent 15+ years working on search technology to catch up with Google. He was vital in launching Bing in the mid-2000s and later became Microsoft’s Cloud boss. Under his leadership, Microsoft’s cloud services are now second only to Amazon’s AWS. Nadella invested $1 billion in OpenAI, which has now grown to $10 billion, making the company both technologically and financially dependent on Microsoft.
Microsoft now leads Google with the use of OpenAI technology. Bing’s GPT-4 is much more accurate and capable than before, thanks to the new Prometheus model developed by Microsoft. Additionally, Microsoft’s collaboration with OpenAI enhances Azure cloud, putting pressure on AWS and Google Cloud. To power GPT-4, Microsoft invested millions of dollars to acquire thousands of Nvidia A100 GPUs and created a daisy-chained compute architecture on the Azure cloud. Originally a custom solution, Microsoft now offers this solution to its customers. Its rivals are likely far behind in such technology.
Also read: How Star Trek inspired modern tech—smart phones, touch panels, VR
Bard, Anthropic, Google AI and Microsoft 365 Copilot
However, Google should not be underestimated. It is the quintessential AI company, with a structure that reflects this status. Google’s AI is further bolstered by one of the smartest AI teams on the planet: the one at DeepMind in the UK, which has been responsible for AI systems like AlphaGO. Jeff Dean, Google’s AI boss, is also one of the modern-day AI wizards. Despite significant turnover at Google in recent years under Sundar Pichai’s leadership, the company’s talent reserves remain deep, and its ability to gather data to train AI models remains unrivalled. Additionally, its cloud platform is believed to have a technical edge over those of Microsoft and Amazon, thanks to its custom Tensor Processing Units (TPUs).
Nadella wanted Google to dance, and it seems that it is finally starting to do so. Google has announced its own chatbot for Google Search, called Bard, which was revealed in a press event. However, in one of the demos, Bard made a significant mistake that caused Alphabet’s stock to plummet. Despite this, Google has been developing the technology for a while and emphasises that it wants to do it in a safer manner than Microsoft.
Moreover, Google has announced that generative AI tools will now be integrated into Google Workspace, which includes tools like Docs, Sheets, Gmail, and Meet — Google’s answer to Microsoft 365. However, Microsoft is also aiming to do the same with Microsoft 365 Copilot which was announced Thursday. Microsoft’s integrations are even more important as its “Office” applications have wider adoption — especially services like Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and even CRM tools like Dynamics. Consequently, this will turn into an arms race of galactic proportions between the two companies.
Google has announced an investment of $300 million in Anthropic, a startup similar to OpenAI that has its chatbot named Claude. Anthropic was founded by former OpenAI employees. The company claims that its bot is safer than GPT and is already being used in tools such as Notion, which I used to write this article. Claude is also being used by DuckDuckGo, the Google search rival, and the question-and-answer engine Quora.
Also read: AI technologies poised to take on our jobs from basic writing to digital art
What’s in it for the user?
AI tools can speed up writing and automate tasks like email drafting, summarising, and note-taking during meetings. OpenAI’s GPT-4 is being integrated into Khan Academy and Duolingo’s chatbots to make them more personable and effective. Khan Academy users now have a chatbot that behaves like a human tutor. Similarly, Duolingo users can learn other languages easily.
OpenAI’s Dall-E is creating graphic art with text-based instructions, and this concept can be developed using Mindjourney on Discord. I use the Notion AI tool to proofread my articles and improve their readability. In fact, for this article, I used Anthropic’s AI in Notion to shorten sentences and proofread, before sending it to the copy desk of ThePrint.
In the case of the Microsoft 365 Copilot, the software is capable of accessing various types of data, including email interactions and notes, in order to understand the context of a query and create a professional-looking PowerPoint presentation. If you’re not satisfied with the result, it can generate an alternative solution. Meanwhile, you can customize and adjust the language of the presentation to make it sound like your own.
In addition to this, the software can provide context to data in Excel, give appropriate replies to emails in Outlook, and even prioritize which ones to look at first. In Word, it can perform many of the same tasks as the AI in Notion, but with more flexibility in setting tone, context, form, and the overall quality of the text. As this technology continues to improve over the next two to three years, the possibilities are endless.
Microsoft admitted most users didn’t know more than 10% of the features in the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, but now Copilot will unlock the rest 90% of the features for everyone. Instead of us, the user, learning the software tools, the software will adapt to our workflow. This is the future of work.
Sahil Mohan Gupta is Editor, Technology at Acko Drive. Views are personal.
(Edited by Prashant)