Just days after claiming that ChatGPT was coming to Bing, The Information is reporting that Microsoft has even bigger plans for the AI chatbot.
Citing multiple sources, The Information claims that Microsoft is now in talks to bring ChatGPT capabilities to “Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and other apps so customers can automatically generate text using simple prompts.” This effort comes in the wake of a related—and apparently stalled or unsuccessful effort—to add AI tools for creating emails and documents using the OpenAI machine-learning models on which ChatGPT is also based.
The danger here is obvious: while today’s AI capabilities are far ahead of the simpler technologies that Microsoft used for Clippy and the other Office Assistants from two decades ago, Office customers still remember how awkward and unwelcome that functionality was. The fear today is that AI could replicate those issues while adding new problems like introducing writing mistakes. That, too, is a well-understood problem at Microsoft: its Microsoft Editor technology, used in Office and on the web, fares poorly against more superior solutions like Grammarly.
But the introduction of ChatGPT into Office and Bing is part of a much grander plan by Microsoft to modernize Office.
“Microsoft has worked on incorporating OpenAI’s language-understanding model, GPT, to provide more useful search results when Outlook email customers look for information in their inboxes,” The Information claims. “For instance, GPT has the ability to figure out what emails the customer might be searching for even if they don’t type the exact keywords that are in the relevant emails, two people with direct knowledge of the plan said.”
The technology could also be used to suggest automatic replies to other emails, recommend changes to documents that remove jargon, and make the writing more easily understandable to others. It might even be used to “write entire tracts of text in response to a prompt,” similar to how ChatGPT works.
What’s unclear is when these changes will begin appearing.