Microsoft’s new AI assistant can go to meetings for you

From The BBC:

Microsoft 365 Copilot can summarise meetings held in Teams for anyone who chooses not to attend.

It can also draft emails, create word documents, spreadsheet graphs, and Powerpoint presentations in moments.

Microsoft says it hopes the tool will eliminate “drudgery” but some worry tech like this will replace workers.

There are also concerns it could leave businesses dangerously reliant on AI-powered assistance.

In its current form, it could also fall foul of new rules governing AI, for failing to make clear when content has not been made by humans.

Both Europe’s AI act and China’s AI regulations state that people must know if they are interacting with artificial intelligence rather than humans.

Collette Stallbaumer, head of Microsoft 365, said it was up to the individual using Copilot to clarify that.

“It is a tool, and people have responsibility to use it responsibly,” she said.

“I might not be telling you, when I send you that response, that I used an AI assistant to help me generate it. But the human is always in the mix and always in control.”

However, the EU states that it is up to the firms which develop AI tools to ensure they are used responsibly.

. . . .

My first impression of Copilot is that it will be a useful tool, but also a formidably competitive colleague for those who do office work – especially within companies looking to make savings.

I watched it confidently summarise in a few seconds, a long chain of emails regarding a fictional product launch.

It then suggested a brief response. We used a simple drop-down menu to make that response longer and more casual, and the Chatbot generated a warm reply, expressing admiration for the ideas proposed and declaring excitement at being involved in the project – although none of us had actually read any of it.

We could then choose to edit the email before sending it, or select the AI-generated copy and send it in its entirety. There was no hint within the email that it contained content from Copilot.

I then saw the tool generate a multiple-slide Powerpoint presentation in around 43 seconds, based on the contents of a Word document. It can use images embedded within the document, if there are any, or it can search its own royalty-free collection. It created a simple but effective presentation – and it also wrote a suggested narrative to read out alongside it.

. . . .

Finally, we looked at a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Copilot identified themes and offered summaries of various threads which had run through the discussion. It could also summarise what one particular person had said if required, and in the event of a disagreement, it was able to offer, in a chart format, the pros and cons which had been debated. All of this took a few seconds.

It has been programmed not to answer questions about the performance of individuals in meetings – such as who was the best speaker (or worst).

I asked Mr Snyder whether he thought anyone would actually bother attending meetings, once they realised that Copilot could save them the time and effort.

“A lot of meetings might become webinars,” he joked.

Link to the rest at The BBC

PG understands the sort of function described in the OP might not be of interest to full-time authors, but thinks it could be quite helpful for an author juggling writing with a day job.

6 thoughts on “Microsoft’s new AI assistant can go to meetings for you”

  1. If everyone can just attend the meeting using bots, they didn’t really need the meeting. Meeting culture has gotten to the point where there are actually people whose entire job is to have meetings to determine which meetings to have. It makes the head spin.
    A meeting should require interaction from the participants otherwise it’s just a bunch of suits who really aren’t contributing anything simply droning on to justify their salaries.
    I could be wrong but that’s how I see most meetings. In my day job in the tech sector, the actual techs get together for fast meetings that take usually 5-10 minutes, cover thing needed to proceed with the project and very little fluff (something the AI couldn’t do for them)- then there are management meetings…

    • Powerpoint Rangers: the next generation.
      Animated AI presenters, AI summaries.
      Might actually boost productivity. 😀
      (Less time dozing off in meetings.)

      • Power corrupts.

        PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.

        That said, the number of staff meetings at which I even had to attend, let alone chair (one of the dubious “privileges” of being the CO is that you get to chair your own staff meetings and then attend the higher-level staff meetings), in the pre-PowerPoint era… I would gladly have sent “Armitage” to almost all of them.

    • The “presentation” type meetings almost always can be replaced by an email. I have long suspected that the reason so many people with information to present prefer a meeting is because they are functionally illiterate and can’t write that email.

      • Or they want to “cold read” the audience? Get their first reaction before they have a chance to cook up office politics excuses to torpedo a proposal? Or get some honest thoughts before office politics brings out the inner yes man. Or to get some real interaction and collabotative brainstorming going.

        The meetings don’t have to be in person but videois a true value adder.
        There’s a reason Microsoft TEAMS has gotten so big the EU is (of course!) investigating its success.

        It depends on the business, but not all meetings are one way time wasters.
        The STEM world, for one, *needs* team meetings to iterate, among many other things.

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