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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

Can Artificial Intelligence make the PC cool again?

Microsoft, HP, Dell and others unveiled a new kind of laptop tailored to work with artificial intelligence. Analysts expect Apple to do something similar.

Karen Weise, Brian X. Chen REDMOND, Wash Published 21.05.24, 09:43 PM
Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, announces the company’s new artificial intelligence functionality during a briefing on the tech giant’s upcoming plans and devices for AI, in Redmond, Wash., on Monday, May 20, 2024. Can artificial intelligence make the PC cool again? Microsoft, HP, Dell and others unveiled a new kind of laptop tailored to work with artificial intelligence. Analysts expect Apple to do something similar.

Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, announces the company’s new artificial intelligence functionality during a briefing on the tech giant’s upcoming plans and devices for AI, in Redmond, Wash., on Monday, May 20, 2024. Can artificial intelligence make the PC cool again? Microsoft, HP, Dell and others unveiled a new kind of laptop tailored to work with artificial intelligence. Analysts expect Apple to do something similar. (Grant Hindsley/The New York Times)

The race to put artificial intelligence everywhere is taking a detour through the good old laptop computer.

Microsoft on Monday introduced a new kind of computer designed for artificial intelligence. The machines, Microsoft says, will run AI systems on chips and other gear inside the computers so they are faster, more personal and more private.

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The new computers, called Copilot+ PC, will allow people to use AI to make it easier to find documents and files they have worked on, emails they have read or websites they have browsed. Their AI systems will also automate tasks such as photo editing and language translation.

The new design will be included in Microsoft’s Surface laptops and high-end products that run on the Windows operating system offered by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung, some of the largest PC makers in the world.

The AI PC, industry analysts believe, could reverse a longtime decline in the importance of the personal computer. For the past two decades, the demand for the fastest laptops has diminished because so much software was moved into cloud computing centers. A strong internet connection and web browser was all most people needed.

But AI stretches that long-distance relationship to its limits. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools are run in data centers stuffed with expensive and sophisticated chips that can process the largest, most advanced systems. Even the most cutting-edge chatbots take time to receive a query, process it and send back a response. It is also extremely expensive to manage.

Microsoft wants to run AI systems directly on a personal computer to eliminate that lag time and cut the price. Microsoft has been shrinking the size of AI systems, called models, to make them easier to run outside of data centers. It said more than 40 will run directly on the laptops. The smaller models are generally not as powerful or accurate as the most cutting-edge AI systems, but they are improving enough to be useful to the average consumer.

Analysts expect Apple to follow suit next month at its conference for software developers, where the company will announce an overhaul for Siri, its virtual assistant, and an overall strategy for integrating more AI capabilities into its laptops and iPhones.

New York Times News Service

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