Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Microsoft Word to use AI to improve writing

New feature will polish prose and make language more gender inclusive

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella looks on during a video as he delivers the keynote address at Build, the company's annual conference for software developers in Seattle. Microsoft announced Monday, May 6, 2019. AP Photo
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella looks on during a video as he delivers the keynote address at Build, the company's annual conference for software developers in Seattle. Microsoft announced Monday, May 6, 2019. AP Photo

Microsoft Word has introduced a new feature, called Ideas, that will use artificial intelligence to improve handwriting beyond correcting spelling and grammar.

The feature, which is still under development, will use AI to correct clumsy sentences and make changes to include language that is gender inclusive.

The technology will build on enhancements to the synonyms feature in Word. This uses machine learning to understand the context of the sentence in which the word appears to offer more relevant alternatives.

Ideas will also help with reading. The feature will be able to estimate reading time, extract key points from within a text and explain acronyms.

A test version of the software will go live in June and become more widely available in autumn.

When it is released, Ideas will compete with other writing assistants such as Grammarly and rival Google’s AI-based writing tool for Google Docs.

Google launched the software in February for users of G Suite, its corporate web tools and services.

Microsoft announced the changes at its Microsoft Build developer show in Seattle on Monday.

Last year, Microsoft brought AI to PowerPoint using Ideas, to suggest improvements to presentations.

The tech giant said it used AI to “help employees overcome some of the realities of modern work, including increasing time demands, overwhelming amounts of data and growing security threats”.

“Here’s something where we say, ‘We understand the structure of your document. We can make it navigable, or we could create a table of contents on your behalf',” said Kirk Gregersen, a partner director of program management at Microsoft.

The UAE looks set to be a global leader in AI and a testing ground for its development.

In March, Omar Al Olama, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, urged private companies to work with the government in an effort to make the country a centre for the technology.

On April 28, Abu Dhabi Media announced a partnership with Sogou, the Chinese search engine and technology giant, to develop the world’s first AI news anchor capable of speaking Arabic.

The presenter is expected to be on TV screens within the next year. Developers in China are working on a model with the language, facial expressions and mannerisms.

Updated: May 8, 2019 10:02 AM

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