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Microsoft is one of the leaders in artificial intelligence (AI) development. For every breakthrough research the company announces, the ultimate goal is to fold AI solutions into existing Microsoft services. For example, just like a new AI feature making its way to the Microsoft Power Platform.

Specifically, a new assistive AI for PowerApps will help convert natural language into workable code. It works exclusively with the Power Fx app in PowerApps and gives users the ability to implement AI tools without have a knowledge of high-level code.

As reported by The Verge, this is the first example of Microsoft using the OpenAI GPT-3 language it licensed last year.

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Microsoft furthered its relationship with OpenAI by exclusively licensing the artificial intelligence company’s GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer 3). This is an autoregressive language model that is seen as a game changing technology. The exclusive licensing of GPT-3 drew criticism, most notably from Tesla CEO and OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk.

If you are not familiar with Power Fx, it is a programming language that is based on Microsoft Excel formulas. While it is not as flexible as popular languages like JavaScript, it is easier to learn and use.

With the new natural language to code features, Microsoft is further mainstreaming coding for PowerApps customers:

“There’s massive demand for digital solutions but not enough coders out there. There’s a million-developer shortfall in the US alone,” Charles Lamanna, CVP of Microsoft’s Low Code Application Platform, tells The Verge. “So instead of making the world learn how to code, why don’t we make development environments speak the language of a normal human?”

How it Works

In a demonstration of the technology, Lamanna shows how it works in an application developer by Coca-Cola to track supplies. Users can drag and drop app elements like a PowerPoint presentation without needing to understand coding for moving those elements. While there are no code parts of the feature, some coding is needed for menus of specific database actions:

“This is when it goes from no code to low code,” says Lamanna. “You go from drag and drop, click click click, to writing formulas. And that quickly becomes complex.”

However, the new AI feature adds a new elements to Power Fx. When developers encounter database queries that are low code, they can now write out the query in natural langaue. OpenAI’s GPT-3 then works to transcribe the natural language to functional code.

Microsoft is talking this up as a real gaming changing development in AI:

“I remember when we got the first prototype working on a Friday night, I used it, and I was like ‘oh my god, this is creepy good,’” says Lamanna. “I haven’t felt this way using technology for a long, long time.”

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