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Microsoft and its PC manufacturer partners will introduce a dedicated Copilot key on some new PCs this year, which will fire up the AI platform at the touch of a button.
January 4, 2024
2024 will be the ‘year of the AI PC’, claims Microsoft in a blog post announcing the Copilot key, a move that will mean ‘AI will be seamlessly woven into Windows from the system, to the silicon, to the hardware.’
According to a teaser video, the key looks like it will live in the bottom right hand corner of the keyboard, and will appear in new PCs announced in the coming days as the tech world ramps up to CES in Las Vegas next week.
The introduction of the Copilot key is the first significant change to the Windows PC keyboard in nearly three decades, says Microsoft, and it seems like a move to leverage its integral position in the PC space to give its AI platform a position of prominence on new devices.
“The Copilot key joins the Windows key as a core part of the PC keyboard and when pressed, the new key will invoke the Copilot in Windows experience to make it seamless to engage Copilot in your day to day,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Executive Vice President, Consumer Chief Marketing Officer in a blog. “Nearly 30 years ago, we introduced the Windows key to the PC keyboard that enabled people all over the world to interact with Windows. We see this as another transformative moment in our journey with Windows where Copilot will be the entry point into the world of AI on the PC.
“Over the coming days leading up to and at CES, you will start to see the Copilot key on many of the new Windows 11 PCs from our ecosystem partners, with availability beginning in late February through Spring, including on upcoming Surface devices.”
We can expect a lot of excited chatter from companies large and small about the plethora of AI infused products that will no doubt be flanking the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre next week.
Microsoft, with its close association with OpenAI, is one of the heavyweights in the gen AI space alongside the likes of Google with its Bard platform. Thanks to its ecosystem of PC partners, the ability to stick a physical key on third party made computers which instantly boots up its offering would seem to be an almost unique lever it can pull.
2024 in general will no doubt see more conversation and competition in the burgeoning sector, as tech giants jostle for position and commentators and lawmakers scratch their heads as the potential legal ramifications that large language model platforms and the way they ‘learn’ come into focus.
Recently, the New York Times announced it is suing OpenAI and Microsoft over claims its copyright was infringed during the training of the LLMs. Here’s some choice quotes from the filing:
Defendants’ unlawful use of The Times’s work to create artificial intelligence products that compete with it threatens The Times’s ability to provide that service. Defendants’ generative artificial intelligence (“GenAI”) tools rely on large-language models (“LLMs”) that were built by copying and using millions of The Times’s copyrighted news articles, in-depth investigations, opinion pieces, reviews, how-to guides, and more.
While Defendants engaged in widescale copying from many sources, they gave Times content particular emphasis when building their LLMs—revealing a preference that recognizes the value of those works. Through Microsoft’s Bing Chat (recently rebranded as “Copilot”) and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Defendants seek to free-ride on The Times’s massive investment in its journalism by using it to build substitutive products without permission or payment.”
This action seeks to hold them responsible for the billions of dollars in statutory and actual damages that they owe for the unlawful copying and use of The Times’s uniquely valuable works.
This as well is going to be a key theme in the AI conversation going forward. Alongside this, depending on how ubiquitous the Copilot keys end up being within the PC ecosystem and how the gen AI market as a whole evolves over the years, it will be interesting to see if regulators end up having anything to say about it from a competition standpoint.
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