Can AI make PCs cool again? Microsoft thinks so.

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The race to put artificial intelligence everywhere is circling through the good old laptop computer.

Microsoft on Monday introduced a new type of computer designed for artificial intelligence. Microsoft says these machines will run AI systems on chips and other gear inside computers to make them faster, more personal and more private.

The new computers, called Copilot+ PCs, will allow people to use AI to make it easier to find documents and files they've worked on, emails they've read, or Websites they have browsed. Their AI systems will also automate tasks like photo editing and language translation.

The new design will be incorporated into Microsoft's Surface laptops and high-end products running the Windows operating system offered by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung, the world's largest PCs. C are makers.

Industry analysts believe AIPC could reverse a long-standing decline in the popularity of the personal computer. Demand for the fastest laptops has declined over the past two decades as a lot of software was moved to cloud computing centers. A strong internet connection and a web browser were required by most people.

But AI stretches this long-distance relationship to its limits. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools run in data centers full of expensive and sophisticated chips that can process the largest, most sophisticated systems. Even the most advanced chatbots take time to receive a question, process it, and send back a response. It is also very expensive to manage.

Microsoft wants to run AI systems directly on personal computers to eliminate this downtime and reduce cost. Microsoft is shrinking the size of AI systems, called models, to make it easier to run them outside of data centers. More than 40 will run directly on laptops, he said. Smaller models are generally not as powerful or accurate as the most advanced AI systems, but they are getting better enough to be useful to the average user.

“We are entering a new era where computers not only understand us, but can predict what we want and our intentions,” Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said at an event at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash. I said.

Analysts expect Apple to follow suit at its conference for software developers next month, where the company will unveil Siri, its virtual assistant, and an overall plan to integrate more AI capabilities into its laptops and iPhones. The strategy will be announced.

Whether AI PCs take off depends on companies' ability to create compelling reasons for buyers to upgrade. Initial sales of these new computers, which cost more than $1,000, will be small, said IDC analyst Lin Huang, who closely follows the market. But by the end of this decade — assuming AI tools prove effective — they will be “everywhere,” he predicted. “Everything will be an AI PC.”

The computer industry is looking for a shock. Consumers are upgrading their computers less frequently, as the music and photos they once stored on their machines now often reside online, on Spotify, Netflix or iCloud. Computer purchases by companies, schools and other institutions have finally stabilized after peaking — and then crashing — during the pandemic.

Some high-end smartphones are already integrating AI chips, but sales have slowed because the features “are still not sophisticated enough to trigger a rapid upgrade cycle,” said Mehdi Hosseini, of Susquehanna International Group. analyst, wrote in a research note. . It will be at least another year, he said, before significant enough progress will lead consumers to take note.

At the event, Microsoft showed off new laptops that have been compared to photographic memory. Users can ask Copilot, Microsoft's chatbot, to use a feature called Recall to find a file by typing a query using natural language, such as, “Can you find me the video call that I did with Joe recently where he had 'I' like a New York coffee mug? The computer will then instantly retrieve the file containing these details as the AI ​​system continuously scans are what the user does on the laptop.

“It remembers things I forget,” Matt Barlow, head of marketing for Microsoft's Surface computers, said in an interview.

Microsoft said the information used for this recall function was stored directly on the laptop for privacy, and would not be sent back to the company's servers or used to train future AI systems. will go Pawan Davalori, a Microsoft executive who oversees Windows, said the recall system would also allow users to opt out of sharing certain types of information, such as visits to certain websites, but that some sensitive data, such as financial and private information. Browsing sessions, by default, will not be monitored.

Microsoft also demonstrated live transcripts that translate in real time, which it said will be available on any video that plays on a laptop screen.

Microsoft last month released AI models small enough to run on phones that performed alongside GPT-3.5, the larger system that initially powered OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot in late 2022. What was the debut?

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

Chipmakers have also made advances, such as adjusting laptop battery life to allow for the heavy calculations that AI demands. The new computers have dedicated chips made by Qualcomm, the largest chip supplier for smartphones.

Although the type of chip inside new AI computers, known as a neural processing unit, is adept at handling complex AI tasks, such as creating images and summarizing documents, its benefits are still elusive for consumers. There could be attention, said Subbarao Kumbhampati, a professor and researcher. in Artificial Intelligence at Arizona State University.

Most of the data processing for AI still has to be done on company servers rather than directly on devices, so it's still important that people have a high-speed Internet connection, he added.

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, said Brad Linder, editor of Lilly Potting, a blog that has covered computers for nearly two decades. What is covered? So, even if people don't buy into the hype about artificial intelligence, they might get AI computers for other reasons.

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