How To Get Investment From Microsoft’s $13B AI Fund
PLUS: PockEngine enables continual learning directly on edge devices.
Welcome back! Today is Thursday, November 16th and we're looking at Microsoft's multifaceted investments in AI - from a startup fund to virtual avatars and new Copilot productivity tools. New to The Intelligence Age? Sign up here.
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News & Insights
At Microsoft, It’s All About AI
Investment fund for AI Startups
Microsoft's M12 fund, matured over seven years, capitalizes on Series A- and B-stage ventures, with a keen eye on how these technologies crystallize into profitable businesses. Microsoft's hefty $13 billion commitment to OpenAI underscores this sentiment, leveraging Azure's cloud for OpenAI's growth, signaling deep entrenchment in AI's future.
M12's investment in d-Matrix, alongside the likes of Typeface and Inworld AI, demonstrates a clear mandate: find solutions that not only innovate but integrate seamlessly with existing ecosystems. Investments are chosen for their vision, revenue potential, and that element of delight—a differentiating factor that commands premium value. Microsoft's recent offer of free Azure AI infrastructure to select startups further cements its role as a catalyst in the AI domain, ensuring its Intelligent Cloud services remain at the forefront of this technological revolution. crunchbase
Virtual AI Avatars for Education, Customer Support, and More
Microsoft's Ignite 2023 event unveiled the Azure AI Speech avatar, a tool designed for creating and animating photorealistic avatars. This development intersects intricately with the rising use of synthetic media. Users can upload images and scripts, animating avatars that replicate human speech and mannerisms. As the tool integrates with models like OpenAI's GPT-3.5, it extends its functionality to conversational agents and chatbots, capable of handling unscripted interactions in various languages.
Concerns arise, however. Ethical implications loom large as the technology opens doors to misuse. Microsoft has placed restrictions, offering only prebuilt avatars to most Azure subscribers, with custom avatars behind stringent access controls. Yet, questions about consent and compensation, especially in light of recent SAG-AFTRA negotiations, remain uncomfortably unanswered. The company's stance on issues like using actors' likenesses without proper remuneration is unclear, as is the potential requirement for AI-generated content to be labeled as such. techcrunch
New Copilot Tools Make Azure More Powerful & Accessible
Microsoft's Ignite event also showcased a trio of Copilot tools: for Azure, Service, and Dynamics 365 Guides. Analysts eye a $10 billion annual revenue by 2026. Adoption is impressive; 40% of Fortune 100 companies were testing Copilot by fall, as per CEO Satya Nadella.
Copilot for Azure, now in preview, is a chat-driven assistant aiding cloud customers with configurations and troubleshooting. It leverages Large Language Models (LLMs) and integrates into Azure's portal. Erin Chapple, CVP of Azure, underscores its ability to "reason over the customer's data." Yet, with generative AI's known mishaps, the trust in Copilot in Azure rests on individual risk appetites. techcrunch
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Microsoft Teams AI-Powered Makeover Promises To Clean Up Your Messy Office
Microsoft Teams is set for a virtual facelift. With the "Decorate your background" feature, users can transform their video call ambiance, adding a layer of professionalism to remote interactions. Alongside, "Voice isolation" will ensure your voice stands out by muting background distractions. Both functions leverage AI to enhance virtual communications, reflecting the evolving demands of our hybrid work era.
AI doesn't just rearrange your backdrop or clarify your speech; it revolutionizes meeting dynamics. Copilot for Teams steps in as a virtual assistant, taking notes and providing transcriptions, freeing participants from these tasks. The intelligence doesn't end when the meeting does—Copilot's intelligent recap offers a digestible summary of discussions, ensuring no detail is missed. zdnet
Around The World
Be My Eyes introduces GPT-4-powered artificial intelligence to assist blind and low-vision Microsoft customers with enhanced visual interpretation services.
Australia Urged to Bolster Readiness for Optimizing Advancements in Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Economic and Social Prosperity.
Intel Intensifies Efforts to Compete in the AI Landscape with Strategic Investments and Technological Developments.
Technique Enables AI On Edge Devices To Keep Learning Over Time
Edge devices are evolving. Now, they can learn continuously, thanks to MIT researchers and their technique, PockEngine. This method selectively updates parts of deep-learning models directly on the device, negating the need for constant cloud communication. Energy efficient and secure, PockEngine speeds up on-device training up to 15 times, without accuracy loss.
AI chatbots and smart keyboards become more nuanced with PockEngine. Imagine a chatbot adapting to your dialect or a keyboard predicting words more accurately over time. This isn't a distant dream—it's here. Song Han, the project's lead, asserts, "With PockEngine, now we can." This leap forward streamlines updates and customization, ensuring privacy and performance. bbc
Written by Isaac R. Ward, Casey Clifton, and Alex Brogan.
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