A new paper describes how Microsoft Excel is in line to receive a deep AI integration. However, this will be one of the increasingly rare times when Microsoft will not tap into OpenAI and ChatGPT to drive the tool. Instead, the company is working on a new AI that it calls FLAME.
A new paper highlights a research product amongst eight researchers within the Microsoft Excel team. It points out how important spreadsheet software remains for productivity. Microsoft says Excel is the most popular version of spreadsheet software.
FLAME will enhance the experience. It is an AI that will make automation on the Microsoft Excel app more efficient. Because it is designed for Excel, it is more accurate and cost-effective than third-party alternatives.
Microsoft Research calls FLAME a “T5-based model trained on Excel formulas”.
The AI “leverages domain insights to achieve competitive performance with a substantially smaller model (60M parameters) and two orders of magnitude less training data. We curate a training dataset using sketch deduplication, introduce an Excel-specific formula tokenizer for our model, and use domain-specific versions of masked span prediction and noisy auto-encoding as pretraining objectives. We evaluate FLAME on formula repair, formula auto-completion, and a novel task called syntax reconstruction.”
It is worth noting this is a research project so there is no word on if it will become a real AI model for Excel or when it will become available on the app.
Microsoft AI Push
Microsoft has been strengthening its AI output, including boosting its partnership by investing billions more into OpenAI and promising to fold AI into all its services. That investment is believed to be $10 billion and gives Microsoft 49% of all revenue from OpenAI products.
Microsoft has confirmed it is bringing AI driven natural language translation to Skype, merging the capabilities of Bing with the ChatGPT chatbot, and integrating OpenAI’s GPT AI engine into Office apps.
Microsoft also says it will fold AI into Windows 12 as a core of the platform, while Azure OpenAI made it to general availability last month.
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