A robust credentialing solution promising cost savings for enterprises and improved privacy for users was announced Monday by Israeli identity verification and management company AU10TIX.

The firm said it is working with Microsoft on Reusable ID, a technology that uses verifiable credentials to enable enterprises to simplify and speed up ongoing ID verification, reducing customer onboarding costs. reduce costs, automate workflows, and enhance the security of sensitive data.

Furthermore, it enables users to store their information locally in a tamper-proof digital wallet that gives them control over what information is passed on to third parties.

AU10TIX explained that verifiable credentials are reusable, immutable digital credentials that authenticate the identity of an individual or entity and allow the secure sharing of personal documents and biometric credentials.

The verifiable credential architecture also gives users the self-sovereignty to share the right information on demand for tasks such as opening accounts, applying to college, and paying taxes.

“The creation of immutable digital credentials is important because it enables secure and tamper-proof identity verification,” said Mark Brady, AU10TIX’s vice president for emerging products.

“Digital credentials can be easily changed or forged, which poses a significant risk to identity verification processes,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Immutable digital credentials ensure that an individual’s identity is accurately and securely verified,” he continued, “which is especially important in sectors such as financial services, healthcare, and government.”

up-leveling verification

Karen Walsh, principal at Allegro Solutions, a cybersecurity consulting company in West Hartford, Conn., explained that digital credentials go beyond a simple username and password by linking a person’s physical self to their digital representation.

“A digital credential can link personal documents, such as a Social Security card or passport, and biometrics, such as Face ID or fingerprints,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“However, reusable IDs will give companies a way to incorporate HR documents with these biometrics, ultimately up-leveling verification,” she said.

“With Unique Authentication, you are ensuring that a user is who they say they are, but trust them to identify themselves honestly,” he continued. “With Reusable ID, Microsoft is going to be able to verify the initial ‘who they say they are’ with government documents.”

Microsoft senior product manager Deepak Marda explained in a statement that the reusable IDs will be used in his company’s third-party onboarding flows to prevent fraudulent activity and ensure regulatory compliance at critical stages of user identity verification. Bar verification can be streamlined.

“Decentralized ID verification is a critical imperative in the digital world, and the AU10TIX solution will increase security while reducing friction in the online ID verification process,” he said.

unfulfilled promise?

Roger Grimes, a defense evangelist at KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Fla., noted that decentralized ID is an attempt to turn tangible control of a digital ID over to the user who uses it.

“The real challenge with digital IDs is whether they can actually be decentralized or what percentage of them can actually be decentralized,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Like the promise of crypto and decentralized finance, he continued, true decentralization never happened. “For a myriad of reasons,” he said, “it turns out that most purportedly decentralized DeFi had more centralized control than the traditional things they were replacing.”

“True decentralization of anything is hard, and IDs are no different,” he said. “Most people don’t want the hassle of maintaining and securing their ID. They just want to use them and make them work.

He stressed that digital ID standards proposed by the World Wide Web Consortium could lead to true decentralized IDs, but he questioned whether the standards would have any staying power.

“Will they be adopted by any meaningful percentage of users, or will they only be used by a very small percentage of privacy enthusiasts and nobody else?” He asked.

“We don’t know yet,” he said, “but if history is any lesson, the promise of digital IDs is bigger than the number of people who will use them. I hope I’m wrong.”

age old damage

Brady notes that in the past cost has been a barrier to the widespread adoption of secure verification methods such as using tokens. “Additionally, there may be resistance from users who are not familiar with the use of hardware tokens and prefer the convenience of traditional forms of identity verification,” he said.

David McNealy, CTO of Delinia, a global privileged access management provider, pointed out that digital credentials have existed for years in the form of PKI certificates and FIDO authentication mechanisms.

“However, we need a better way for users to create and verify their identity, as well as enable better ways for users to control the information they submit during the account creation process,” he added. told TechNewsWorld.

“There are many advantages, but there are also some chronic disadvantages that will accompany us as we move toward digital identity,” said James E. Lee, chief operating officer of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization devoted to digital identity management. To reduce the risk and reduce the impact of identity compromise and crime in San Diego, California.

“Digital identities are more secure and more privacy-focused, but there is no such thing as immutable identity credentials,” he told TechNewsWorld. “There’s always a way around it.”

enhancing cyber security

Lee praised the AU10TIX/Microsoft venture. “It’s a step in the direction we’ve been looking at for some time with FIDO, with passkeys instead of passwords,” he said.

“If you move to a secure transaction based identity using tokens,” he continued, “it is going to be a more secure process and result in more reliable results than handing over driver’s licenses. “

“One of the things we’re seeing is a tremendous increase in driver’s license data targeted in cyberattacks,” he said. “We are seeing data breaches being committed specifically to obtain driver’s license information. This will not happen with digital credentials.

Brady said better credential management can enhance cyber security by reducing the risk of identity theft and fraud.

“By using more secure and tamper-proof digital credentials, organizations can ensure that only authorized users can access their sensitive data and systems,” he said. “This reduces the likelihood of security breaches and helps protect against cyber threats.”

“Improved credential management also simplifies identity verification processes, making it easier for organizations to manage access to their resources and reduce the risk of unauthorized access,” he said.

Microsoft did what we expected last Thursday by putting generative AI called Copilot into Microsoft 365 next year. This technology is potentially a game changer for office productivity, as Microsoft Office initially was.

Let’s talk about the Copilot effect this week. Then we’ll close with our Product of the Week, a new laptop from HP that’s the result of an unusually close collaboration with AMD and gives people like me who don’t have an IT department an edge compared to most IT shops. Provides better support experience

Microsoft 365 Co-Pilot: Your Digital Secretary

When I started in the technology business, secretaries were common. I even shared one for a while, and it was a great experience. Sadly I was on the receiving end of such help. It was incredible to have an employee whose job I have my back and who would complement and reassure my work.

As products such as Office advanced, companies concluded that secretaries were no longer needed, and executives were given tools that supposedly automated the secretary’s role. They didn’t, however, because those devices weren’t smart.

Automated tools made us more productive but didn’t fix shortcomings we could have done with human assistants, such as writing a good letter, maintaining correspondence, and keeping a secret of our inability to manage our anger. Some social media blew up).

This initial use of generative AI in Co-Pilot, while much smarter than Office without it, won’t initially make up for all our shortcomings, but it will get smarter over time. I am confident that it will grow to fully embrace the role of the old Secretary. But in the beginning, it will increase our productivity by turning our ideas and concepts into completed works.

This digital secretary is still young and naive

We have to keep in mind that this technology, which is already in its fourth generation, is still very young and immature. We can’t depend on it like an experienced human assistant, which means it’s more about producing quantity than quality. We will need to learn this tool and be aware of its weaknesses.

While it is far more intelligent than Office, it is not as smart as a good human assistant. It can’t pick up on context, it won’t always understand intonation effects, and it won’t be able to protect you from a mistake.

The tool isn’t a peer to peer yet, although I expect it to evolve to become one. In a way, it is like a small child who looks up to his parents like God and does not question anything the parents say. It doesn’t understand nuance or realize that those parents aren’t perfect.

This tool will not only do what you tell it to do, even if it’s not in your best interests, but it will also take fed data, fact or fiction, and treat it like the truth. As a result, you’ll need to provide oversight and recognize that it may be operating at a speed that could be dangerous.

twitter alert

One of the things that makes Twitter dangerous is that you can see and react to something without thinking about the implications of your response. You see a funny post and like it without realizing the post is sexist or racist, and your career comes to an abrupt end.

You get angry and post your feelings about something your CEO did, you misread a post or just react poorly to a post and again, your career is over. Is. The speed at which you can deliver on Twitter is one of the biggest threats to your future.

Copilot is initially a speed tool. If you’re upset, this would draft an email that could end your career, so you should use restraint like Twitter to avoid sending it. One of the advantages of writing something yourself is that it gives you time to think about what you’re doing and maybe rethink it.

I’m not suggesting that the tool is bad, but like any tool that initially focuses more on speed than quality, the risk of acting rashly increases significantly. Luckily, for those of us who haven’t lost our jobs because of a poorly thought-out tweet (my fix was mostly to stay off Twitter), we know how to stop and think before we act.

Still, as awesome as it is (and it’s awesome!), we need to realize that this new technology is in danger of acting first, only to regret that action later.

Bringing Back Microsoft’s Office Assistant Clippy

After reading that headline, I can practically hear some people throwing things at me and yelling, “No!” While Clippy’s concept was cool, the technology and execution were admittedly terrible. But as Copilot develops, it will gain the ability to help you do certain tasks better as it learns how to accomplish them. In other words, Copilot is massively more helpful than Clippy, even in the beginning.

Where I’m particularly interested to see this tool work with PowerPoint. Most of us, myself included, suck at PowerPoint, which is ironic because my earliest success as an executive was creating great presentation slides. But as time went on, I got lazy and started creating word-heavy slides that didn’t properly utilize the visual aspects of that tool.

Copilot for PowerPoint takes that text approach and makes visually compelling slides out of it, so I can still be lazy and have more eye-catching presentations. This corrects the bad practice many of us have developed over the years and creates a tremendous amount of work where we can iterate over material until the slides tell the story we want to tell.

For me, this version of Copilot offers the greatest benefits with the least potential risk. Given my outrageous presentation history, this could be life changing. This video shows the CoPilot in action.


This brings up another point which is that this tool allows you to iterate more quickly. I write as I think, but this means I am often very wordy, and my flow is not ideal.

With Copilot, you can quickly iterate a document, then create multiple drafts, improving each one as you go. In fact, I recommend that approach for improving the quality of the result. I hope that the most benefit from CoPilot will be those who learn to use the tool and iterate to improve the quality of the results.

While this will reduce production somewhat, it will improve quality so that the results are otherwise better, rather than simply produced more quickly.

Wrapping up: who is most at risk?

As with any automation advancement, there are people who are at substantial risk and there are people who will benefit most from the technology. Those focused on speed over quality will be hurt at first by this device unless more quality assurance is built into it. Others, who focus on quality over quantity, will see it as a godsend.

An analogy would be a bad versus a good driver in a more powerful car. A bad driver is more likely to die, while a good driver will reach their destination more quickly and safely. This class of equipment will amplify both good and bad behavior. Disciplined and organized people will love this device. Others… not so much.

Like any new technology, looking beyond the hype to see the real benefits and risks of a new device will yield better results. While Copilot is already impressive, its initial focus is more quantitative than qualitative, meaning you’ll need to pay more attention to quality and learn how to use this tool before going hog wild with it.

tech product of the week

hp dragonfly pro

The Dragonfly line is HP’s flagship laptop line, designed to deliver the best experience and highest security of any HP offering.

The latest, the HP Dragonfly Pro, is unique in that it was jointly designed with AMD to strike a good balance of light weight, long battery life, and performance. Also, this product provides the kind of IT support that enterprises get but for small businesses and freelancers like me. In terms of design, it is a mix of some of the best Windows and Apple design elements.

The HP Dragonfly Pro has the oversized touchpad and clean lines of an Apple product and the more robust finish, touchscreen, ports, and IT tools, for example, the facial recognition and fingerprint reader of a Windows product – all wrapped with HP’s market-leading security Has happened.

The service offering that comes with Dragonfly Pro is also unique. Dedicated buttons on the right side of the keyboard allow quick access to the notebook’s features and functions and enable you to launch user-selected apps with a single button – and contact support, too. Its support button reminds me of a feature in newer cars where you press a button and get connected to support instantly.

HP Dragonfly Pro in Sparkling Black

Dragonfly Pro in Sparkling Black (Image credit: HP)

Something else new in this laptop is a high-performance charger, but it’s had mixed results. Unlike HP’s older chargers, this one has an attached AC plug, and, like most chargers of this type, it doesn’t work well in planes and has a tendency to fall off or hit feet depending on where those plugs sit. Is.

The easy fix is ​​a short extension cord that allows you to slide the charger under the seat and take the charger’s weight off the plug. Definitely use a three-prong extension cord, because on older planes, the AC outlet is so frayed that any two-prong plug will fall out regardless of weight. But the Dragonfly Pro has about 10 hours of battery life, so you may not need to use the charger on the plane if you charge the laptop before you leave.

I got a chance to try out the support experience, and it was great, with good engagement and aggressive follow-up, which is unusual for laptop support. You can pay extra for a package that will also provide a replacement laptop in case yours breaks.

Retail price starts at $1,399 for 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. For about $150 more, you can double both the memory and the storage (it’s a bargain, but most of us don’t need that much extra capacity).

oh, one more thing. The speakers on the Dragonfly Pro are amazing. I was watching a Netflix show on it in my hotel room, and the sound filled the room with incredible output from a laptop I could argue is the best. As a result, the HP Dragonfly Pro is my product of the week.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Less than a week after imposing search limits on the AI ​​version of its Bing search engine, Microsoft is increasing those limits.

In the wake of some embarrassing reports of erratic behavior by the new Bing, Microsoft last Friday decided to limit a user’s daily usage to five “turns” per session and 50 turns per day.

In turn there is a question by a user and an answer by Bing. After five turns are complete, users are asked to change the subject of their conversation with the AI.

The changes were necessary because the underlying AI model used by the new Bing can become confused by long chat sessions made up of multiple turns, the company explained in its Bing blog.

However, on Tuesday, after an uproar from Bing users, Microsoft raised the usage limit to six turns in one session and 60 turns per day.

The new limits will enable the vast majority of users to use the new Bing naturally, the company blogs.

It said, “We intend to grow further, and we plan to increase the daily cap to 100 total chats soon.”

“Also,” it continued, “with this upcoming change, your general searches will no longer count against your chat total.”

crowd input needed

Microsoft decided to put limits on the use of AI-powered Bing after some users found ways to round up the search engine by calling them enemies and even doubling down on errors of fact it made. Received for, such as the name CEO of Twitter.

,[W]E has found that in long, extended chat sessions of 15 or more questions, Bing can become repetitive or prompt/provoke responses that are not necessarily helpful or in line with our designed tone,” Microsoft acknowledged in a blog.

With the new limits on Bing AI usage, the company may accept a few more. “It indicates that they didn’t anticipate some of the reactions fast enough and turned it around,” Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a news, comment and analysis website, told TechNewsWorld.

“Despite the horror stories written about the new Bing, there is a lot of productivity to be gained with it,” said Jason Wong, vice president and analyst at Gartner, pointing to the usefulness of such a tool in certain content scenarios. “

“For many software companies, until you release your software to the public, you don’t know what you’re going to get,” Wong told TechNewsWorld.

“You can do all kinds of tests,” he said. “You can have teams doing stress tests on it. But you won’t know what you have until the crowd gets to it. Then, hopefully, you can glean some wisdom from the crowd. “

Wong cited a lesson learned by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’re too late.”

Google too cautious about Bard?

Microsoft’s decision to launch its AI search vehicle with potential warts contrasts with the more cautious approach taken by Google with its Bard AI search product.

“Bing and Google are in different positions,” Sterling explained. “Bing needs to take more chances. Google has more to lose and will be more cautious as a result.

But is Google being too cautious? “It depends on what kind of rabbit they have in their hat,” said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

“If you have a really nice rabbit and you don’t let it out, you’re very cautious,” Duffield told TechNewsWorld. “If your rabbit isn’t ready, there’s nothing cautious about holding it back.”

“If they have something good and they release it, maybe people will say they should have launched it months ago. But maybe months ago, it wasn’t that good,” he said.

danger to workers

Microsoft also blogged that it was going to start testing a Bing AI option that lets the user choose the tone of the chat from “exact” – which focuses on shorter, more search-focused answers – to “balanced”. Will use Microsoft’s proprietary AI technology to do this. and “creative”—which will use ChatGPT to give longer and more talkative answers to the user.

The company explained that the goal is to give users more control over the type of chat behavior to best meet their needs.

“The choice is good in essence,” Sterling observed. “However, in these early days, the quality of ChatGPT answers may not be high enough.”

“So until the railing is strengthened, and ChatGPT accuracy improves, this may not be such a good thing,” he said. “Bing will have to manage expectations and reject the ChatGPT content to some degree.”

In a related case, a survey of 1,000 business leaders released Tuesday by Resume Builder found that 49% of their companies are using ChatGPT; 30% of companies plan to use AI technology, 48% say it has replaced the workforce. The following charts reveal more data on how companies are using ChatGPT.

copilot for humans

Sterling was skeptical of finding replacement workers in the survey. “I think a lot of companies are testing it. So in that sense, companies are ‘using’ it.”

“And some companies may recognize methods that can save time or money and potentially replace manual work or outsourcing,” he continued. “But the survey results lack context and are only presenting partial information.”

However, he acknowledged that hiring and freelancing patterns will change over time due to AI.

Wong found the number of businesses using ChatGPT surprising, but not so much with the number of people converting.

“I can see that someone would not write documentation for updates to an application or portal, but to demote or move people from a role because they are using ChatGPT, I would find it hard to believe,” he said. ,” They said.

“Gartner’s advice to customers exploring ChatGPT and Bing Chat is to think of them as co-pilots,” he continued. “It’s going to help create something that needs to be reviewed by a human, who’s going to assess the validity of an answer.”

He concluded, “In only a small amount of use cases they can replace a human.”

Microsoft announced last week that it was moving ChatGPT to its Bing search engine and that it would only work through its new Edge browser.

AI in general, and generative AI in particular, are game changers because they are not only able to do more for you, but they can be made to interact with you as if it were a person. That’s a huge advantage, and Google clearly got caught napping. Ironically, this was usually Microsoft’s problem.

The graphical user interface (GUI) came from Apple, and Microsoft caught up. Server Unix came from (mostly Sun Microsystems), and Microsoft caught up. The browser came from Netscape, and Microsoft caught up. Microsoft’s history is intertwined with coming from behind and taking the first to market by out-executing. This time, Microsoft is the first to scale up generative AI, and its aggressive move has scared the crap out of Alphabet (Google), which appears to be in a panic.

With this one move, Microsoft has the potential to drive search traffic away from Google and repeat past successes against Apple, Sun Microsystems and Netscape. It feels like the more successful efforts of a pre-Steve Ballmer Microsoft, which seemed more willing to do what was needed to win.

This week, let’s find out what AI-powered Bing and Edge mean for search — and how Microsoft is taking on Google. Then we’ll end with my product of the week: Lenovo’s 30th anniversary ThinkPad.

Generative AI Advantage

In search mode, this means you can fully describe what you want, rather than trying to pretend you know boolean logic.

For example, I asked the new Bing, “Which James Bond movie has the most gadgets and is the most fun to watch?” And the service recommended “Thunderball”, which has the top-ranked Bond gadget and ranked sixth in popularity.

If you put that same query into Google, you’ll only get articles ranking Bond movies. In Google, you have to spend time asking additional questions to arrive at the same answer. Perhaps.

With chat activated (currently, chat is by invitation only as we try to make the chat application say things that embarrass Microsoft and then report what we’ve done on social media), you can refine You can interact with the tool to view your results and help you write them if you want to go further.

Judging by the quality of the answer Bing gave me, it was better than what I would have answered if I had been asked the same question – and it’s only getting better with time. I’d pick “Goldfinger”, forgetting that even though “Goldfinger” is ranked #1, “Thunderball” has most of the gadgets of “Goldfinger” and a ton more besides.

Along with the jet pack, “Thunderball” should rank near the top in both quality (the jet pack) and quantity (due to all the unique underwater and tracking gear). So, I can see that “Thunderball” was a better choice I would have made myself.

I mentioned that chat gets better with Bing turned on; Instead of doing additional searches, you can interact with the search tool to refine your request. This will allow you to refine your search by adding additional arguments even after the chat is closed; It doesn’t help you underestimate the initial usefulness of the tool.

It is my firm belief that, once you get comfortable talking with a computer, as we have abandoned “command line” interfaces for GUIs, we can move away from Boolean logic questions in favor of plain language interfaces. Will give up and eventually either combine or replace the GUI. speech interface.

why google is bad

The problem for Google is twofold.

First of all, it looks like Microsoft made the same mistake with search by treating its IE browser like a cash cow that requires no investment. Google’s other big problem is that the switching cost between Google and Bing is almost non-existent. If enough people move from Google to Bing, Google is screwed because there’s no solid mechanism to bring users back until it can match Microsoft before habits are formed.

This means that Google should have a comparable solution on the market that is fast enough to prevent migration to the more advanced Microsoft platform. While Google is clearly in a panic, it’s nowhere near where it needs to be. Unlike Microsoft, which makes most of its money from selling or renting things rather than from advertising revenue, Google’s revenue is tightly tied to search. If it loses its near-monopoly, it will be painful. Will be very sad.

Google is the established vendor, which means it has home court advantage in this fight, but with low switching costs and even a few weeks of usage, it could lose its installed base. Given how easy it is to try Bing, the ability (not just the announcement) to prevent users from making the switch before the same capability is provided is too weak.

Google can do what Steve Jobs and Apple do in their sleep and dislike generative AI and ChatGPT until it catches up. But Google is not a marketing-focused company. Considering how much of its revenue comes from advertising, I think it’s ironic because it should be really good at paying the bills. Sadly, Google is not. Even if it were, its history of selling user information means that Microsoft’s effort to tank FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), its biggest lever, would backfire badly.

So, it appears that Google is triple-screwed. It has no counter-offer in the market, it doesn’t have the marketing potential for the FUD Microsoft offering, and it’s already considered less secure than Microsoft’s, which means it’s going to deter people from trying. Can’t use any security logic effectively. product.

Conclusion: The Surprising Return of Microsoft

When I started covering Microsoft in the early ’90s, it seemed like it could do nothing wrong. It rolled over Apple, flattened Sun Microsystems, kicked IBM’s butt, and helped put Netscape out of business. With the launch of Windows 95, it did the impossible by getting people so excited about an operating system that they were ready to buy it. An Operating System!

But then that century was over. Over the next ten years, Microsoft stalled with the Xbox, failed with the Zune, lost dominance with its IE browser, lost its phone business, and successively lost two CEOs. In the last decade, its reconstruction began. Azure was a huge success, Windows was vastly improved, and it fixed its tarnished reputation — and got out of some conflicting problems.

In this decade, the company has started looking like old Microsoft by competing with Google. Now it looks like Google is on the ropes, and Microsoft has the edge (pun intended). Execution will be key, but Microsoft has been executing very well of late. Suddenly, Generative AI and ChatGPT are trending positively, and Google is scared. This is going to be a very interesting decade. Nicely done!

tech product of the week

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 30th Anniversary Edition

ThinkPad Anniversary Edition represents the ThinkPad brand.

While Microsoft Surface products are closest to the Apple products in the market as a family, ThinkPad has a brand that is second only to Apple in terms of recognition and reliability. In a way, if you think of Apple as representing design-over-function, the ThinkPad is function-over-design. Put another way, the Apple is the sports car you drive for fun, but the ThinkPad is the pickup you drive for work.

Both brands have power and recognition (you can identify both product lines from a distance) but very different focuses and user experiences. Lenovo generally operates on lower margins than Apple, which means you usually get more for your money from Lenovo products. Until Lenovo recently went out of stock, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 30th Anniversary Edition was a steal at $1,891.45 if you wanted the most secure, reliable, work-focused laptop.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon - 30th Anniversary Edition

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 30th Anniversary Edition (Image credit: Lenovo)

Thinkpads convey a professional vibe which means they arguably enhance your work related presence and potentially enhance your work related status just by being seen with one. Other brands, especially those that are more consumer-oriented, convey a less professional image that can detract from your subjective assessment and your business success.

In short, when you come out with a ThinkPad, people generally know you mean business. This is useful when trying to convey a professional image in anything other than animation or graphics, where Apple still has a strong brand.

Sometimes, you just want people to take you seriously when you have a laptop you can depend on. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon 30th Anniversary Edition is just that, so it’s my product of the week.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Microsoft may have ushered in a paradigm shift Tuesday with the release of new versions of its search engine, Bing, and web browser, Edge — both now powered by artificial intelligence.

Available in preview on Bing.com, new offerings combine browsing and chat into a unified experience that makes both work better. When performing a search, for example, more relevant results are displayed, and for information such as sports scores, stock prices, and weather forecasts, results may appear without leaving the search page.

For more complex questions—such as “What can I substitute for eggs when baking a cake”—Bing can synthesize an answer from multiple online sources and present a summary response.

Searchers can also chat with Bing to further refine a search and use it to help create content, such as travel itineraries or quizzes for trivia night.

In addition to the facelift in the Edge browser, there is also an AI function for chatting and content creation. You can ask it to summarize long reports, pare them down to the essentials, or create a LinkedIn post from a few prompts.

“AI will fundamentally transform every software category, starting with the biggest category of all — search,” Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

paradigm shift

When you integrate AI with search, you can get the best of both worlds, said Bob O’Donnell, founder and principal analyst at Technalysis Research in Foster City, Calif., a technology market research and consulting firm.

“You can have the timeliness of a search index and the intelligence of natural language-based chat and summary tools,” O’Donnell told TechNewsWorld.

This video demos the new Bing Chat experience:

“What they’re doing is ultimately making the computer smarter,” he explained. “It enables them to deliver what they have to say, not necessarily what has been said.”

“It’s going to take some time for people to get used to it, but it’s dramatically better,” he said. “Its time savings and efficiency are off the charts.”

“I think we are in the midst of a paradigm shift,” he said.

Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City, explained that bringing AI into Bing is just the tip of a larger Microsoft strategy.

“It’s not just about Bing, which is the low-hanging fruit for the integration,” Rubin told TechNewsWorld. “They want to integrate AI into a lot of their products — Office, Teams, Azure.”

“It may help Bing in its long-standing competition with Google, but it’s really much more than that,” he said. “They wouldn’t have made this level of investment if it was about making Bing more effective.”

bard of google

Microsoft’s action comes on the heels of Google announcing on Monday that it was bringing an AI conversational service called Bard to a group of “trusted testers.” Bard is based on Google’s natural language technology, LaMDA. Microsoft is using OpenAI technology in its offering.

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a company blog that Bard seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our larger language model. It pulls information from across the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses.

He explained that the Bard will initially be released with a lighter model version of the LaMDA. This much smaller model requires significantly less computing power, allowing us to scale to more users and allowing for more feedback.

He added that we will combine external feedback with our own internal testing to ensure that Bard’s responses meet a high standard in quality, safety and real-world information.

Pichai wrote that when people think of Google, they often think of quick factual answers, such as “How many keys are on a piano?” But increasingly, people are turning to Google for deeper insight and understanding — like, “Is piano or guitar easier to learn, and how much practice does each require?”

AI can be helpful in these moments, synthesizing insights for questions where there is no right answer, he continued. Soon, you’ll see AI-powered features in search that deliver complex information and multiple perspectives in easy-to-digest formats, so you can quickly understand the big picture and learn more from the web: whether it’s looking for additional perspectives doing, such as blogs from people who play both piano and guitar, or going in-depth on a related topic, such as the steps in getting started as a beginner.

Pichai said that these new AI features will start rolling out on Google Search soon.

leg up on leader

The question is, will “soon” be too late?

“Suddenly, the Microsoft search product is going to be much better than what Google has to offer,” said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“We’ll see how many people start making the switch,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “The switching cost between Bing and Google is non-existent. With switching costs so low, the question will be how many people switch to Bing and how bad will Google hurt?”

“It will take time for Google to catch up,” he said. “In the meantime, people will be establishing habit patterns with Bing, and if people are happy with Bing, why go back to Google?”

He added, “This appears to be a well-executed, dark strategy to battle Google, and Google, for whatever reason, was not adequately prepared.”

Incorporating AI into search helps Microsoft get a leg up on Google, maintained Ed Anderson, research vice president and analyst at Gartner, a research and advisory firm based in Stamford, Conn.

“Microsoft beat Google to the punch in terms of bringing AI-assisted search to Bing and Edge,” Anderson told TechNewsWorld. “How closely Google is toying with its search engine and browser remains to be seen.”

rewrite search rule

O’Donnell believes the new Bing search could make some headway against Google for eyeballs. “It’s the kind of thing that once you try to explore with this new type of engine, it becomes difficult to go back to the old one. It’s so much better,” he said.

“Microsoft is trying to rewrite the rules of the game,” Rubin said. “What is at risk is not only Google’s search leadership, but also its revenue model. Displacing search with an engine that can provide answers without redirecting you somewhere will require rethinking the entire search revenue model.

However, Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a news, comment and analysis website, pointed out that not only does Google have a wealth of experience in AI, but it also has extensive resources that it has built up for search over the years.

“What Microsoft revealed is impressive, but the usage that Google shows needs to be better,” Sterling told TechNewsWorld. “It can’t get a little better. It has to get better.”

“There is an opportunity here because of concerns about privacy on the user interface and the quality of search results and ads,” he said. “There is an opening, but Microsoft needs to take advantage of those variables. It remains to be seen whether they can do that.”

Microsoft researchers have announced a new application that uses artificial intelligence to mimic a person’s voice with just a few seconds of training. Voice models can be used for text-to-speech applications.

The application, called VALL-E, can be used to synthesize high-quality individual speech with only three seconds of nomination recording of the speaker as an acoustic signal, the researchers wrote in a paper published online on arXiv, a Free distribution service and an open-access archive for scholarly articles.

There are now programs that can cut and paste speech into an audio stream, and that speech is converted from typed text to the speaker’s voice. However, the program must be trained to simulate a person’s voice, which can take an hour or more.

“One of the extraordinary things about this model is that it does it in a matter of seconds. It’s very impressive,” Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City, told TechNewsWorld.

According to the researchers, VALL-E outperforms current state-of-the-art text-to-speech (TTS) systems in both speech naturalness and speaker similarity.

In addition, VALL-E can preserve the speaker’s emotions and acoustic environment. So if a speech sample was recorded on a phone, for example, text using that voice would sound like it was being read through a phone.

‘super impressive’

VALL-E is a noticeable improvement compared to previous state-of-the-art systems like YourTTS, due to be released in early 2022, said Giacomo Micelli, a computer scientist and Werner Herzog, creator of a website featuring an AI-generated, never-ending discussion and the synthesized speech of Slavoj Zizek.

“The interesting thing about VALL-E is not just that it only needs three seconds of audio to clone a voice, but also how much it can mimic that voice, emotional timing, and any background noise.” can match closely,” Michaeli told TechNewsWorld. Ritu Jyoti, group vice president of AI and automation at IDC, a global market research company, called VALL-E “significant and highly impactful”.

“This is a significant improvement over previous models, which required a much longer training period to generate a new sound,” Jyoti told TechNewsWorld.

“It’s still early days for this technology, and more improvements are expected to make it more human-like,” he added.

emotion simulation questioned

Unlike OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, Microsoft has not opened VALL-E to the public, so questions remain about its performance. For example, are there factors that could cause degradation of the speech produced by the application?

“The longer the audio snippet generated, the more likely a human is to hear things that seem a bit distant,” Micheli said. “Words in speech synthesis may be ambiguous, omitted, or duplicated.”

“It’s also possible that switching between emotional registers will feel unnatural,” he said.

There is also doubt in the application’s ability to simulate the speaker’s emotions. “It will be interesting to see how strong the potential holds,” said Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.

“The fact that they claim this is hard to believe with only a few seconds of audio,” he continued, “given the current limitations of AI algorithms, which require a lot of voice samples. “

ethical concerns

Experts see beneficial applications for VALL-E as well as some non-profit applications. Jyoti cited speech editing and replacing voice actors. Miceli said the technology could be used to build editing tools for podcasters, customize the sound of smart speakers, as well as incorporate them into messaging systems and chat rooms, videogames and even navigation systems.

“The other side of the coin is that a malicious user could clone a politician’s voice, and have them say things that sound absurd or inflammatory, or just to spread false information or propaganda in general,” Miceli said. Told.

If it’s as good as Microsoft claims, Vena sees huge abuse potential in the technology. “At the level of financial services and security, it is not difficult to accept use cases by rogue actors who can do really harmful things,” he said.

Jyoti also sees ethical concerns emerging around VALL-E. “As technology advances, the sounds produced by VALL-E and similar technologies will become more reliable,” he explained. “This would open the door to genuine spam calls that mimic the voices of real people a potential victim knows.”

“Politicians and other public figures can also be impersonated,” he added.

“There could be potential security concerns,” she continued. “For example, some banks allow voice passwords, which raises concerns about misuse. We can expect an increase in the arms race between AI-generated content and AI-detecting software to prevent misuse. Huh.

“It is important to note that currently VALL-E is not available,” Jyothi said. “Overall, it is important to regulate AI. We will have to see what measures Microsoft takes to regulate the use of VALL-E.”

enter lawyers

Legal issues may also arise around the technology. “Unfortunately, there may not be existing, adequate legal tools to deal directly with such issues, and instead, a hodgepodge of laws that cover how the technology is misused reduce such misuse. can be used to,” Michael L. Principal at Harness IP, a national intellectual property law firm.

“For example,” he continued, “voice cloning can result in a deepfake of a real person’s voice that can be used to deceive a listener or even be used to mimic the voice of an election candidate.” While such misuse would raise legal issues in the area of ​​fraud, defamation, or electoral misinformation laws, there is a lack of specific AI laws that would deal with the use of the technology itself.

“Further, depending on how the initial voice sample was obtained, there may be implications under the federal Wiretap Act and state wiretap laws if the voice sample was obtained over, for example, a telephone line,” he said. .

“After all,” Teich said, “in limited circumstances, there may be First Amendment concerns if such voice cloning is used by a government actor to silence, delegate, or dilute legitimate voices from exercising their free speech rights.” is done to.”

“As these technologies mature, there may be a need for specific laws to directly address the technology and prevent its misuse as the technology advances and becomes more accessible,” he said.

make smart investments

In recent weeks, Microsoft AI has been making headlines. ChatGPT is expected to be incorporated this year into its Bing search engine and possibly its Office apps. It also reportedly plans to invest $10 million in OpenAI — and now, VALL-E.

“I think they’re making a lot of smart investments,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder and principal analyst at Technalysis Research in Foster City, Calif., a technology market research and consulting firm.

“They jumped on the OpenAI bandwagon several years ago, so they’ve been behind the scenes on this for quite some time. Now it’s coming out in a big way,” O’Donnell told TechNewsworld.

“They’ve had to play catch-up with Google, which is known for its AI, but Microsoft is making some aggressive moves to come to the forefront,” he continued. “They’re jumping on the popularity and the incredible coverage that all these things are getting.”

Rubin said, “Microsoft, having been the leader in productivity for the last 30 years, is looking to preserve and extend that leadership. AI may hold the key to that.”

Microsoft has announced a hands-on preview for commercial customers of its new Teams premium product designed to make meetings more personal, intelligent and secure.

The premium product includes many attractive features, such as:

  • Using artificial intelligence to provide live translation and intelligent recaps of meetings with autogenerated chapters and suggested action items and insights;
  • Advanced security with the use of watermarks, end-to-end encryption, and sensitivity labels to prevent copy and pasting of chat sessions;
  • Tools for creating and managing high-quality webinars;
  • Virtual Appointment Dashboard to control the end-to-end virtual appointment experience; And
  • Ability to expand company image in meetings by branding background.

“This is an opportunity for Microsoft to open up monetization opportunities beyond Microsoft 365,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

“You’ll get basic-level functionality, but more functionality at the higher price levels,” Rubin told TechNewsWorld.

Race for AI Solutions

The AI ​​feature does many things not done in meetings, such as providing outlines, notes and translations for their audience, said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“I expect this AI component to be the defining difference between platforms in the future,” he told TechNewsworld. “Powerful conferencing solutions are racing to see who can provide the most powerful AI-based solution.”

Intelligent Recap holds a lot of promise for helping organizations get the most out of meetings, said JP Gounder, vice president and principal analyst at national market research company Forrester Research.

“Too often, follow-ups and action items are forgotten after the meeting,” Gounder told TechNewsWorld. “Those who missed the meeting struggle to find the value of the meeting.”

“Intelligent Recap promises to automate the process of extracting follow-ups, action items, and meeting content,” he continued. “It will take some time to learn from real-world meetings, but it promises to increase the value of meetings and connect them to business actions.”

more efficient meetings

In some ways, the new tools in Teams Premium make virtual meetings more efficient than in-person meetings, said Michael Inouye, a principal analyst at ABI Research, a global technology intelligence firm.

“By more efficient, I mean making access to information from previous meetings and follow-up more streamlined and easier,” Inoue told TechNewsWorld.

He clarified that in a face-to-face meeting, any work on the whiteboard may not be included in the meeting notes. Similarly, note-taking is often not shared among participants or may be specialized to an individual’s note-taking style.

“Creating chapters and tagging recorded meetings makes searching through the archives much more efficient,” he continued. “Instead of trying to remember the date of a particular meeting by checking your notes, you can search for a topic or other information of interest.”

“These tools can benefit in-person meetings as well, because those conversations can be recorded and processed in the same way, so it’s not exclusive to virtual,” he added.

Features Too Good for Paywall

New security features in Teams Premium have also drawn praise. Forrester analyst Will McCann-White said, “The security enhancements like copy/paste controls and E2E encryption for groups are all excellent.”

However, he questioned the limitation of features to a premium offering. “It’s strange that these are divided outside of the standard Teams platform,” he told TechNewsWorld.

McKeon-White was also commended for joining the Teams Premium webinar. “There is a great need for offering webinars from a competition point of view and this will help organizations further strengthen an offering,” he added.

While praising the product’s translation feature, he also lamented its limitations. “Live translation is going to be transformative for how organizations communicate,” he predicted. “It’s a shame to see this change inside the paywall.”

One feature of Teams Premium that is getting mixed reviews is its branding feature.

Mark N., president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif. “I think the branding-focused features are interesting and potentially different than what Zoom and Cisco’s solutions are offering,” Vena said.

“It appears that Microsoft is moving toward a more personalized experience with the premium version of Teams, which I think will be useful,” Vena told TechNewsWorld.

“The ability to create more customized experiences will be valued by some users, and I think the ability to add your brand will be valued by users who create video podcasts or conduct webinars,” he said.

ahead of time

While an interesting idea, the brand extension feature could be problematic, stressed Enderle. “Using a tool like this to push a brand requires marketing to have a direct say in the outcome, which isn’t the case here,” he added.

“It would be like providing a medical device without medical oversight,” he explained. “I don’t think you can do a brand feature without deeply involving marketing in the resulting process. That’s not the case here.

Inouye said that branding is usually not prioritized in virtual types of communication and collaboration. “Going forward, if virtual C&C becomes more widespread or more generally, I can see it becoming more valuable,” he added.

“It may be a little ahead of its time,” he continued. “No harm done, but it won’t be a significant selling point.”

Inoue said Teams Premium should help position Microsoft in the communications and collaboration market. However, he added, “it’s hard to say whether this will change the competitive landscape in a meaningful way, at least not yet.”

“Companies have reduced virtual events, which means a company may see less value from a more integrated solution,” he explained. “For a handful of events going with a third party can be as good an option as a more integrated solution.”

word of caution

Vena argued that Microsoft is playing catch-up in the video conferencing space as Zoom became the market leader during the pandemic, focusing on ease of use.

“But Zoom continues to face protests over security concerns, and Microsoft has a perceived advantage when it comes to protecting privacy,” he said. “This new solution should move the ball forward in increasing its appeal to Teams, especially with enterprise and SMB users.”

McCown-White said all of the enhancements are logical and add value to the Teams platform. “My biggest issue with Microsoft’s approach is they compartmentalized behind a paywall,” he said.

“Any time AI/ML features are divested outside of a platform, it provides an opening for competitors,” he said.

There’s a lot to like in this rollout, as Microsoft continues to evolve its AI to deliver more valuable features, noted Wayne Kurtzman, vice president of collaboration and communities research at IDC, a global market research company.

However, he cautioned: “Microsoft will need to add more benefits to maintain the premium value, as some of their competitors are likely to include some of these features in their core product. Regardless, feature innovation is likely to maintain a high velocity.