Tech titans ready new AI tools to gain an edge in 2024

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After a breakthrough year, Big Tech titans are betting big on new artificial intelligence offerings to fuel success in 2024. Microsoft is adding an AI button to its computer keyboard, tech mogul Jeff Bezos is funding an AI startup to compete with Google‘s search, and rumors are flying that Apple is preparing to unveil new generative AI features as well.

Microsoft said its new “Copilot key” will be introduced for its Windows 11 personal computers to apply Microsoft’s new AI tools to users’ work, according to Microsoft executive vice president Yusuf Mehdi. 

“In this new year, we will be ushering in a significant shift toward a more personal and intelligent computing future where AI will be seamlessly woven into Windows from the system, to the silicon, to the hardware,” Mr. Mehdi said on Microsoft’s blog. “This will not only simplify people’s computing experience but also amplify it, making 2024 the year of the AI PC.”

Artificial intelligence is the field of science and engineering that combines advanced computing and statistical analysis to complete tasks needing complicated reasoning.  

Microsoft’s new button will enable people to access its AI companion, called Copilot, which was designed to boost productivity and efficiency across the company’s suite of products, including Outlook for email and Word for word processing. 

Mr. Mehdi said Thursday that the addition of the Copilot button is the first major change to Microsoft’s keyboard in nearly three decades. 

Other long-established tech players are facing AI changes too. Mr. Bezos, the billionaire tech titan who founded Amazon, is helping to fund Perplexity, an AI startup looking to dethrone Google as the king of online search. 

Perplexity is the maker of a new AI research assistant, also called Copilot, and the company said Thursday that Mr. Bezos is among a group of investors providing a total of $73.6 million to support its consumer adoption plans.

Perplexity co-founder Aravind Srinivas said his company launched its conversational answer engine a year ago, now has 10 million monthly active users and more than 1 million people have installed its mobile apps. 

“With Perplexity’s search tools, users get instant, reliable answers to any question with complete sources and citations included,” Mr. Srinivas wrote on Perplexity’s blog. “There is no need to click on different links, compare answers, or endlessly dig for information. In an era where misinformation and AI hallucinations are causing increasing concern, we’re built on the idea that accuracy and transparency are prerequisites to making AI-powered search ubiquitous.” 

Nvidia, a major player in the AI sector, invested in Perplexity alongside Mr. Bezos. Nvidia Vice President Jonathan Cohen heralded the startup’s work and said Perplexity “will become the go-to place for trusted information.”

With startups nipping at their heels, Big Tech’s traditional powers are working on adapting their services with new AI models. Apple is rumored to be working on new generative AI capabilities for its virtual assistant Siri. 

Apple worked frantically last year on a new AI system to be implemented via its Siri assistant, according to a Bloomberg report from October. On Thursday, a blogger leaked Apple’s alleged plan to unveil its new AI work at an upcoming developer conference, igniting rumors that Apple was readying its counterpunch to ChatGPT and other chatbots. 

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

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