June 25, 2024

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Can AI make PC cool again? Microsoft thinks so.

Can AI make PC cool again?  Microsoft thinks so.

The race to spread AI everywhere is taking a turn via the good old laptop.

Microsoft on Monday introduced a new type of computer designed for artificial intelligence. Microsoft says the machines will run artificial intelligence systems on chips and other equipment inside computers, so they are faster, more personal and more private.

The new computers, called Copilot+ PC, will allow people to use artificial intelligence to make it easier to find documents and files they’ve worked on, emails they’ve read, or websites they’ve browsed. Their AI systems will also automate tasks such as image editing and language translation.

The new design will be included in Microsoft’s Surface laptops and high-end Windows-based products from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung, some The world’s largest computer hardware makers.

Industry analysts believe that AI-powered personal computers can reverse the long-standing decline in the importance of the personal computer. Over the past two decades, demand for the fastest laptops has diminished because so much software has been moved to cloud computing centers. A strong Internet connection and a web browser was all most people needed.

But artificial intelligence extends that long-term relationship to its limits. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools run in data centers filled with expensive, sophisticated chips that can process the largest and most advanced systems. Even the latest chatbots take time to receive an inquiry, process it, and send a response back. It is also very expensive to manage.

Microsoft wants to run its AI systems directly on a PC to eliminate this lag and lower the price. Microsoft has shrunk the size of its AI systems, called models, to make it easier to run them outside of data centers. More than 40 will be played directly on laptops, she said. The smaller models are generally not as powerful or accurate as most advanced AI systems, but they are improving enough to be useful to the average consumer.

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“We are entering a new era where computers not only understand us, but can predict what we want and our intentions,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at a ceremony held at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

Analysts expect Apple to follow suit next month at its Software Developers Conference, where the company will announce a major overhaul of Siri, its virtual assistant, and a comprehensive strategy to integrate more artificial intelligence capabilities into its laptops and iPhones.

The success of AI-enabled personal computers depends on companies’ ability to create compelling reasons for buyers to upgrade. Lin Huang, an analyst at IDC who closely follows the market, said initial sales of these new computers, which cost more than $1,000, will be small. But by the end of the decade — assuming AI tools are useful — they will be “ubiquitous,” he predicted. “Everything will be an AI computer.”

The computer industry is looking for a shake-up. Consumers are upgrading their computers less frequently, as the music and photos they stored on their devices are now more often available online, on Spotify, Netflix, or iCloud. Purchases of computers by businesses, schools and other organizations have finally stabilized after booming — and then crashing — during the pandemic.

Some high-end smartphones have already integrated AI chips, but sales have declined because features “are still not advanced enough to stimulate a faster upgrade cycle,” Mehdi Hosseini, an analyst at Susquehanna International Group, wrote in a research note. . It will be at least another year, he said, before breakthroughs are meaningful enough to cause consumers to take notice.

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At the event, Microsoft showcased new laptops that contain what appears to be photographic memory. Users can ask Copilot, Microsoft’s chatbot, to use a feature called Recall to search for a file by typing a question using natural language, such as, “Can you find me a video call I had with Joe recently where he said ‘I’?” Would you like a cup of coffee in new york The computer will then instantly be able to retrieve the file containing those details because the AI ​​systems are constantly checking what the user is doing on the laptop.

“It remembers things you’ve forgotten,” Matt Barlow, head of marketing for Microsoft’s Surface computers, said in an interview.

Microsoft said the information used in this recall function was stored directly on the laptop for privacy, and will not be sent back to the company’s servers or used to train future artificial intelligence systems. Pavan Davuluri, a Microsoft executive who oversees the Windows operating system, said that with the recall system, users will also be able to opt out of sharing certain types of information, such as visits to a particular website, but some sensitive data, such as financial information and… Private browsing sessions will not be monitored by default.

Microsoft also showed off live transcripts translated in real time, which it said would be available on any video streamed through a laptop screen.

Microsoft last month released AI models small enough to run on a phone that it said performed roughly similarly to GPT-3.5, the much larger system that initially powered OpenAI’s ChatGPT when it debuted in late 2022.

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(The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft in December for copyright infringement on news content related to AI systems.)

Chipmakers have made progress, too, such as tweaking laptop battery life to allow for the massive number of calculations required by AI. The new computers contain custom chips produced by Qualcomm, the largest supplier of chips for smartphones.

Subbarao Kambhampati, a professor and researcher, said that although the type of chip inside new AI computers, known as a neural processing unit, is specialized in handling complex AI tasks, such as generating images and summarizing documents, the benefits may still be unclear. Note to consumers. Artificial Intelligence at Arizona State University.

He added that most AI data processing still has to be done on company servers rather than directly on devices, so it’s still important for people to have a fast internet connection.

But neural processing chips also speed up other tasks, such as video editing or the ability to use a virtual background within a video call, says Brad Linder, editor of Liliputing, a blog that has been covering computers for nearly two decades. So, even if people don’t buy into the hype surrounding AI, they may end up getting an AI computer for other reasons.