AI & Microsoft
For the last few years Microsoft has been making some excellent advancements with the help of AI, and not just with making the use of their products and services smarter and more intuitive. Partnered with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Microsoft are launching the Terrain-AI research project, with the intent to help reduce global carbon emissions. Meanwhile in Bar Harbor, Maine, The Jackson Laboratory saw the need to be interpret the nearly 4000 cancer research papers that are published on a daily basis, and with the support of Microsoft’s Project Hanover, developed an AI that will be able to read, identify and curate important data from them, to gain insights that could lead to precision treatments and medicine.
There is a lot that can be said about Microsoft’s AI development across various fields of research, but for now we’d like to list some of the ways in which Microsoft are using AI in their own products to improve the way we work on a day-to-day basis.
Intelligent Office Suite
The Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Access & OneNote) is constantly being updated for M365 subscribers, and in recent years they have included a number of AI-driven features that are getting more sophisticated. Here are some of the key AI features of the Office Suite:
Microsoft Word – The Ideas feature in Word takes advantage of intelligence gained from Microsoft Graph. Graph securely holds data from the public internet, as well as data about your documents, and the Ideas function can use this data to generate tailored insights for users about their documents. Ideas will suggest ways to improve the prose and optimise the layout – it can even help you more efficiently navigate other people’s documents.
Microsoft PowerPoint – PowerPoint Designer gives Microsoft 365 subscribers access to automatically generated design ideas they can use on their slides. When you put content on a slide, Designer works in the background to apply that content to professionally designed layouts. PowerPoint’s AI has also been upgraded to include the new Presentation Coach feature. This feature allows you to enter a rehearsal mode. While speaking you receive on-screen guidance about pacing, inclusive language, use of filler words, and culturally insensitive phrases. It even lets you know when you’re just reading off the slide.
Microsoft Excel – Excel contains the Ideas feature similar to Word, but here it helps to identify trends, patterns, and outliers in a data set, making it easier to analyse your data. AI has also enabled Excel to enable the use of new data types – Stocks and Geography. A table of countries can be converted into a data set that is linked to online sources that provides information such as population, minimum wage, largest city, all of which can be added to the table.
With working today not only becoming more remote but also becoming more international, it is a necessity to have the means to communicate with people across different languages, whether you are personally able to speak them or not. In fact, Microsoft’s deep learning researchers were the first to achieve levels of machine translation that were comparable to human translation.
The Microsoft Translator service current supports 73 language systems, and 11 speech translation systems that enable users to have live, translated conversations on certain Microsoft platforms. Microsoft Translator also integrates with the Office Suite, SharePoint, Microsoft Edge, Yammer, and many more of M365 products.
Machine learning is a powerful tool that is changing the world around us, and the way we work. These are just a few of the enhancements to our workflow, and we can’t wait to see what else is in store.