Scott Quilter

Scott Quilter

Principal Consultant

In a world where tech is king, AI is the crown jewel that's constantly evolving right under our noses. Recently, our Consultant, Scott Quilter, had a chat with our Experience Executive, Elliott Carter, about all things AI — what it is, what it's not, and everything in between. Microsoft's leap into the fray with Co-Pilot is a testament to AI's growing role in our work lives. It's about collaboration not replacement and having that extra brainpower to make our ideas sharper, our work more efficient, and our coffee breaks a little bit longer!


Scott and Elliott delved into the stickier bits too— the ethical conundrums and the biases that can sneak into AI systems! They chatted, debated, and even philosophised about the way in which AI could become the scaffold for our digital futures.

So, grab a drink and join us as we explore the nooks and crannies of artificial intelligence — through the lens of those who build, use, and sometimes wrangle with it.


Defining AI: The Human-like Machine

Artificial intelligence — it sounds like a term conjured up by a telly scriptwriter, doesn't it? But AI's far from fictional. It's about crafting machines that can mimic the brain — thinking, learning, and solving problems. Scott and Elliott chewed the fat over this very topic, contemplating AI as the ultimate impersonator of human smarts.


Imagine a world in which your laptop sorts your emails, your car dodges traffic, and your phone predicts text so accurately that it's like it is reading your mind. It's not just about flashy robots, it's about creating a seamless experience where machines take on the grunt work without a peep from us.


But let's not get ahead of ourselves – in many areas, AI’s still got its training wheels on. It's brilliant at specific tasks (like winning at chess or recommending the next banger to add to your playlist) but it's not quite ready to chat about the weather or understand nuance. The challenge here is to teach AI not just to learn, but to understand context — and that's a tall order.


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AI in Our Daily Orbit: Machine Learning's Presence in our Daily Lives


You know that feeling when Spotify throws a tune at you that's so spot on, it's like it's been lurking in your brain? Or when your phone's camera makes you look like a million dollars, even when you're feeling a solid five out of ten? Well, tip your hat to AI for those little daily miracles.


During their chinwag, Elliott and Scott explored just how AI is woven into the fabric of our daily tech without us even clocking it. Our smartphones, for instance, are predicting our texts, screening our calls, and even getting the lighting just right for our selfies. And it doesn’t stop at our phones! Smart cars are learning to navigate the motorways and are even parking themselves — and let's be honest, doing a better job than some of us! Some smart cars are even driving us from A to B whilst we simply sit back and enjoy the ride.


What about around the house? From your morning news feed, on your smart speaker, to control over your thermostat, and even customising your lighting – AI is about making your tech thoughtfully intuitive. It's like having a personal butler who pops your heating on before you even realise you’re cold.


AI has slipped into our lives stealthily! It's the silent partner in our daily dance with tech, and it's only getting niftier. So, next time your phone nudges you about an appointment or your virtual assistant dims the lights just so, remember — it's all AI, quietly doing its thing.




AI in the Workplace: Revolution or Evolution


Elliott popped a corker of a question: “Is AI in the workplace a revolution, or just a smart evolution?” Chatbots, large language models, and those nifty generative pre-trained transformers are not just changing the game; they're rewriting the rulebook.


Chatbots are now the first faces of many customer services, solving problems without even having to consult a human. They're the tireless workers who never clock off, keeping things ticking while we take a breather. And they're getting sharper by the minute, understanding queries better year-on-year.


Then there's the large language models — the big brains of AI. These are the clever clogs that generate human-like text, answer questions, write content, and even code. They're like the helpful colleague who's always on hand with a thesaurus and a calculator, ready to jump in.


But wait, there's more. Generative Pre-Trained Transformers (GPTs) are the Picassos of the AI workplace, creating everything from snazzy graphics to brand-new melodies. They're not just following instructions, they're getting creative by offering up ideas that can spark a whole new project.


The longer Scott and Elliott pondered this, the clearer it became: AI in the workplace isn't about replacing us; it's about pushing us to the next level. And that is a revolution in itself.




Bias in AI: Steering Clear of the Icebergs


Chatting with Elliott, Scott touched on a topic hotter than a server farm in the Sahara: bias in AI. It's a sticky wicket because AI's only as fair as the data it's fed. If that data is skewed, the AI's view of the world will be too.


Here's the rub: avoiding bias in AI isn't just about good intentions. It's about deliberate, meticulous action. This means not just collecting heaps of data, but making sure it's varied and balanced.


So, what’s the goal here? Simply, it’s to ensure AI is a tool for all, not just a select few. After all, who wants an AI that's giving out biased information?



AI and Ethics: Balancing Innovation with Responsibility


Innovation is thrilling, but with great power comes great responsibility. Take data privacy —It's about ensuring that AI systems respect the sanctity of our personal info, handling it with the care it deserves.


And then there's the hot topic of job displacement. AI may be automating tasks faster than you can say 'efficiency', but it's not about making human roles redundant - it's about reshaping the job landscape, turning AI into a collaborator that can take the robot out of the human, leaving us free to tackle more meaningful, creative pursuits.


Elliott asked the million-dollar question: How do we keep the scales balanced? It's about having the foresight to anticipate the societal ripples AI might create. We’ve got to implement robust frameworks, transparent practices, and a dollop of common sense.



Microsoft and AI: Investing in the Future


Microsoft is seriously investing time and money into the development of AI. They've teamed up with OpenAI, the brains behind some of the cleverest AI on the block, and together they're cooking up some tech wizardry.


Now, let's talk about how they're weaving AI into their staple products. Bing's not just a search engine anymore; it's got AI under the hood, making it a whizz at finding exactly what you're after. And Office 365? It's predicting what you want to write, crunching numbers in Excel, and even giving you design tips in PowerPoint.


So, what does this mean for the everyday user? It's about making our digital lives smoother, sharper, and more intuitive. Microsoft's not just selling software; they're selling smarts, and with AI, they’re set to redefine the way in which we work.




AI for the Uninitiated: Simplifying the Tech Jargon


For too long AI has felt like an exclusive club, but it’s time to bust the doors down and let everyone in on the secret, no tech jargon allowed. Machine learning? That's just another way of saying that AI learns by doing. And ‘neural networks’? They’re just a web of connections in the AI's brain, mirroring how our brains work. 'Algorithm'? Don't glaze over, it’s easy! It's just a step-by-step method for solving problems.


So, next time you hear someone chinwagging about AI and throwing around big words like 'natural language processing', just picture a computer that's cracking the code of human chat, learning to understand us a bit better one word at a time.


The bottom line from Scott and Elliott’s tete-a-tete? AI might sound like it's all rocket science, but at its core, it's about making life a bit more streamlined, a tad more connected, and a whole lot smarter; and that's something we can all get behind.


Check out our previous insights on all things M365 AI:

The Evolution of M365 and AI - Preparing for the Copilot Era

Bing Chat for Enterprise: Elevating Workplace Interactions

Windows 11 Copilot: A Consumer-Centric AI Companion

Unveiling Microsoft 365 Chat: Your New Workday Companion


Originally published November 28 2023, Updated November 29, 2023

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