Microsoft pushes ahead with controversial move in Windows 11 – having Copilot appear immediately after startup

Remember that Microsoft was previously testing an idea whereby Copilot automatically launches by default when Windows 11 first boots?

Well, Microsoft is pushing ahead with rolling out this feature more broadly, and some of the Windows Insiders who test preview builds aren’t too happy about this.

A quick bit of background here: The functionality to enable Copilot to appear on the desktop when Windows 11 first starts up was brought in with preview releases of Windows 11 back in January.

However, this only happened on a very limited basis with testers in the Dev channel initially, but now Microsoft is expanding the rollout of the feature, as MS Power User noticed – as did various testers posting on X (formerly Twitter).

Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager on the Windows Insider team, addressed some of the eyebrows being raised on X, noting that Microsoft had previously released this feature in build 23615 and that it had been temporarily disabled – but was now back in build 26100 from last week.

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LeBlanc then spoke to the Windows team and returned with another post to clarify that in fact the rollout of this Copilot functionality was actually re-enabled back in February in both Canary and Dev channels, but that what’s happening now is that the deployment of the feature is being expanded.

Whatever the case, it’s clear Microsoft is pushing forward with this concept of having Copilot appear on the desktop when you first turn on your PC.

However, as before, this is only happening for certain users depending on the type of monitor they have – meaning those with a display big enough to handle the Copilot panel appearing in this way. That means a monitor with at least a 27-inch screen and a pixel width of 1920 (with Full HD resolution being 1920 x 1080, of course).

Analysis: The risk of feather ruffling

Clearly enough, this is one of those features which is set to ruffle more than a few feathers. Making it so that Copilot is right there by default on the desktop from the get-go will obviously increase the visibility of the AI for Microsoft, and the amount of usage it gets thereafter.

Presumably that’s the idea, but the equally obvious risk is that having Copilot operate in a more in-your-face manner when the Windows 11 PC boots up is going to provoke the ire of some users.

That said, Microsoft is limiting it to larger monitors, and there is a switch to turn off this feature in Settings, and we can reasonably assume that’ll be carried through to release – if this Copilot auto-boot idea makes it through testing to finished builds of Windows 11, and it may not. Depending on feedback, Microsoft might end up abandoning it.

However, the feature progressing to a wider rollout seems to suggest that it will be a keeper for Microsoft. We’ll know for sure if it turns up in the Beta channel, and the Release Preview channel after that – at the latter point, it’s almost certainly going to make the cut for release.

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Elon Musk launches xAI startup to, naturally, understand the universe

Billionaire Elon Musk is entering the world of AI – again – as he officially reveals his latest tech business venture,  xAI, which aims to “understand the true nature of the universe.”

Details on what exactly xAI will bring to the industry are unknown at this time. The official website is pretty vague, but we won’t have to wait long to learn more. The company is planning to hold a Twitter Spaces chat this Friday, July 14 where people can join and ask the team questions (hopefully, no one rage quits this time). 

However, there are several clues on the official website indicating the future product or service could be related to generative AI in some way. Looking at the website’s description, the team is stacked with former engineers from major tech companies like Microsoft, Google, OpenAI, as well as Tesla. The work of these experts has led to “some of the largest breakthroughs” and learning techniques in AI. This research has even led to the development of notable LLMs (large language models) like GPT-4.

Fighting misinformation

You may be wondering, “Why is Musk doing this?”

Well, it appears Elon Musk ultimately wants to make his own generative AI with a potentially large emphasis on safety. Since the ChatGPT launch back in November 2022, Musk has been a vocal critic of it and the developer, OpenAI, as well as other similar systems. It’s to the point where, back in late March 2023, Musk, alongside other tech figures, cosigned a letter asking all AI labs across the world to pause training AI models “for at least six months”. The letter urged developers to slow down and implement “safety protocols” to curb misinformation

It is true chatbots do sometimes generate false information. Developers of these systems are trying to figure out a way to combat hallucinations

And we believe that is what Elon Musk is getting at with xAI. He wants a chatbot that doesn’t falsify responses. Musk is even bringing in Dan Hendrycks, the director of the Center for AI Safety, a nonprofit organization that recently published an open letter asking tech leaders to mitigate the “risk of extinction from AI.” Yes, they are talking about literal human extinction as if this is a Terminator movie.

Analysis: Who does this benefit?

What’s in all this for you? Honestly, we don’t know. Sure, you can argue Musk's potential xAI chatbot could be better than ChatGPT or Google Bard because it has special technology to ensure it doesn’t lie. If this were in the hands of anyone else, we would sincerely believe that. But, under Musk’s reign, Twitter has, among other questionable actions, complied with government censorship demands and banned the ElonJet account for posting publicly available data. 

Is factual information really a major concern for the controversial CEO? Musk's actions say otherwise. It’s questionable if such an AI chatbot will even provide truthful answers. Perhaps they'll just be Elon Musk's version of the truth.

Co-founder Greg Yang states the company aims to develop a “theory of everything” enabling “everyone to understand our mathematical universe.” So if you need help with your Philosophy 101 homework, you have the xAI chatbot. 

All jokes aside, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the Twitter Spaces chat on July 14. A generative AI that provides 100 percent accurate information is something the world needs right now. Misinformation is a major problem afflicting many aspects of the world. We just wonder if Elon Musk is the right person to develop it.

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