This week’s KJR Challenge: Read this Microsoft word salad: “Introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot – your copilot for work – The Official Microsoft Blog” and figure out what Microsoft 365 Copilot is. Or, failing that, figure out what it does.
The linked blog entry was attributed to Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Modern Work & Business Applications.
Which leads to your next KJR Challenge: What on earth does that job title mean?
Meaning no offense, Mr. Spataro, but the only reason I have any confidence that you’re a Live Human Being and not a ChatGPT avatar is that I can usually make heads and tails out of a ChatGPT essay.
That, and that your average ChatGPT essay doesn’t include so many questionable assertions. Examples:
“Humans are hard-wired to dream, to create, to innovate.”
No, we aren’t. To the extent we’re hard-wired to do anything it’s to increase our DNA’s representation in the future population’s gene pool. And even that hard-wired drive is buffered by a bunch of intermediate effects.
“With Copilot, you’re always in control. You decide what to keep, modify or discard. Now, you can be more creative in Word, more analytical in Excel, more expressive in PowerPoint, more productive in Outlook and more collaborative in Teams.”
No. With Copilot we won’t be more creative in Word. With Copilot we mere humans will stop being creators. Copilot will turn us into editors instead.
I have nothing against editors. But editing isn’t creative and isn’t supposed to be creative.
Oh, and by the way, I might not be feeling collaborative; sometimes I don’t feel collaborative for intensely valid reasons. If Copilot were to make me more collaborative in Teams I most definitely wouldn’t be in control.
“With our new copilot for work, we’re giving people more agency and making technology more accessible through the most universal interface — natural language.”
Microsoft apparently buys into Springer’s Law, named after my old friend Paul Springer, who asked, “Why use a picture when a thousand words will do?”
Oh, and by the way, people misunderstand what’s said to them all the time. Why would we expect Copilot to be better at interpreting natural language than we human beings, who have had tens of thousands of years of practice at it.
Just my opinion: Clicking on an icon is faster and more efficient than using sentences to explain what you’re trying to do.
“… every meeting is a productive meeting with Copilot in Teams. It can summarize key discussion points — including who said what and where people are aligned and where they disagree — and suggest action items, all in real time during a meeting.
Okay, this is just silly. Or else, terrifying. Unless Copilot can barge in and mute everyone’s microphone to say, “You’ve made this point thirteen times already, Fred. Please stop so we can move on,” it won’t make meetings more productive.
Copilot “… creates a new knowledge model for every organization — harnessing the massive reservoir of data and insights that lies largely inaccessible and untapped today.”
The ever-helpful Bing implementation of ChatGPT explains that,” A knowledge model is a computer interpretable model of knowledge.” Yes, that’s right. A knowledge model is a model of knowledge. And that’s the best definition of “knowledge model” I could find.
One more: “Uplevel skills. Copilot makes you better at what you’re good at and lets you quickly master what you’ve yet to learn.”
Except that as it turns out, Copilot doesn’t “uplevel” [don’t blame me for this linguistic abomination] anyone’s skills. So far as I can tell it doesn’t show you how to do something. It does whatever-the-task-is for you.
But delegation is a skill, so I guess gaining the ability to delegate to Copilot constitutes “upleveling” your delegation skills.
But it’s a stretch.
Bob’s last word: Don’t get me wrong. A year ago I was impressed with Google’s semantic search capabilities. Now, more and more I’m complementing it with Bing’s generative AI research summarizations. Its abilities are impressive, and I expect Copilot and similar technologies will turn out to be highly consequential.
But as impressive as generative AI is, it also encourages me to be lazy.
For this I don’t need encouragement. And if we’re going to equate laziness and increased productivity … I think we’re going to need a new knowledge model to sell the idea.
Bob’s sales pitch: Every time I email a fresh column to the assembled KJR multitudes, my mailing service drops those subscribers whose emails are bounced due to mailbox full or other errors. The result is a slow but steady erosion of KJR’s subscriber base. The only way to replenish is for subscribers like you to encourage non-subscribers like that guy three cubicles to the left of you to sign up.
How about it?
Now on CIO.com’s CIO Survival Guide: “Why IT surveys can’t be trusted for strategic decisions.” All surveys will tell you is whose company you’re keeping.