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Windows PC will take screenshot of all activities, will use ‘photographic memory’ of AI to ‘Recall’ and search anything and everything: Satya Nadella explains

"This is a Black Mirror episode. Definitely turning this feature off", Musk posted on X.

On 20th May (local time), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared details about the latest advancements in Windows that emphasised the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create, what Microsoft has termed, “Copilot+PCs”. In a discussion with Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern, Nadella shared how these AI-powered PCs would redefine user experience with innovative features and enhanced performances.

Nadella said that Microsoft expects the new technology to outperform competitors like Apple’s Mac in the coming days. Learning about the AI tech that Microsoft is going to use in the new PCs, billionaire Elon Musk expressed privacy concerns and suggested users should think about shifting to the Linux operating system.

AI-Powered Screenshots based feature ‘Recall’

One of the aspects of the discussion was the new screenshot capability of the Copilot+PCs powered by advanced AI technology and the inclusion of a neural processing unit (NPU). The feature has been named “Recall” by Microsoft. It will take periodic screenshots of the work you are doing on your PC to keep a record of your past activities locally on the PC. This feature will make it possible to find and recreate moments from the users’ digital history.

How ‘Recall’ works on Copilot+PCs

Nadella explained that Windows will take constant screenshots of what’s on the screen. These screenshots will be processed by a generative AI model that will run locally on the device instead of on a cloud centre. Which means, you do not need to connect to the internet to use the feature.

Using the ‘Recall’ feature, users can perform visual searches for items. For example, if you search “red t-shirt” in Recall’s search panel, it will not only search the text from the local digital history but will also show visual elements that match the search. Even if there is no mention of the “red t-shirt” in the text in a screenshot but someone is wearing it, the screenshot will appear in the search.

Speaking on the privacy aspect of the feature, Nadella said that all the processing will be done locally on the device. It will ensure users’ data security. Furthermore, users will have the capability to restrict which apps and websites can be included in the screenshot history. Also, they can switch off the feature entirely with a few clicks.

The role of NPUs and Edge computing

AI features like Recall take a lot of processing power. Microsoft has integrated NPUs into their new devices. NPUs help in accelerating the matrix math computations that are essential for AI applications thus enabling these takes to be performed efficiently on the device itself instead of relying on cloud computing.

Hardware innovations

The new Copilot+PCs come with Qualcomm Snapdragon X series chips that are based on ARM architecture. These chips are energy-efficient and similar to those found in smartphones. It provides significant improvements over traditional intel chips used in PCs. Nadella pointed out that the devices can offer up to 22 hours of continuous video playback which surpasses the battery life of several laptops available in the market.

Additional AI Features

Apart from the Recall feature, the new Microsoft devices come packed with features like co-creator and live translation. Co-creator is an enhanced “Paint” application that allows users to generate images based on sketches and text prompts. Live translation is capable of translating video calls and conversations from 44 different languages. Microsoft has embedded a language model locally on the device for the live translation to work.

Nadella said Microsoft expects to expand AI capabilities to smartphones, messaging platforms and smart glasses. He also hoped for a collaboration with Meta for advanced features.

Elon Musk calls it ‘A Black Mirror episode”

The future looks promising with the AI feature that Microsoft is promising but not everyone feels the same. Tesla and SpaceX’s owner and billionaire Elon Musk took on X (formerly Twitter) to express his dismay over the advanced AI features being offered by Microsoft in its new device.

He also called the Recall featured a ‘Black Mirror episode’. “This is a Black Mirror episode. Definitely turning this feature off”, Musk posted on X.

Quoting a clip from the interview on Copilot+PCs, he said, “Maybe it is time to move consumer desktops to Linux.” Notably, this is not the first time Musk has criticised Microsoft over its practices. Earlier, he expressed frustration over Microsoft requiring a user account to access new PCs which he believed grants AI undue access to personal data. He also criticised Microsoft for having undue control over OpenAI. Both allegations were denied by Microsoft.

The new devices are expected to hit the market in June at USD 999.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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