AI assistants are efficient and helpful but a privacy nightmare

They can hurt you with the same efficiency with which they help you

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It is no secret that Microsoft is betting big on artificial intelligence. But its decision to add a key to summon Copilot, its AI bot, on the Windows keyboard shows how big the stakes are. The last time Microsoft changed the keyboard was some 30 years ago, when it added the Windows key next to the spacebar.

Copilot is already there in many avatars on your Windows computer. By default, you see the button on the taskbar if you are running the latest version of the OS. It has a chat mode, powered by Bing chat, which is another version of Open AI’s ChatGPT, and can help you with anything from composing an article to change into dark mode.

Copilot can do a bit of coding as well. Just tell it what you want your code to do and it will give you formatted code. You can edit or tweak it as well. And, thanks to Dall-E integration, it can generate images―just tell it what you want and you get four options.

Most these options are already available on Bing Chat, but there is more that Copilot can offer. Like summoning an app. Just type, or say after clicking the mic button in dialogue box, ‘Open Spotify’, or ‘Turn off dark mode’. It can also help you with troubleshooting apps.

However, there are only a handful of programs that Copilot is integrated with. Edge, the browser, and Microsoft 365 have their own Copilots, and they are somewhat deeply integrated. But Copilot cannot do much inside most programs, even the ones developed by Microsoft. And until it is capable of doing stuff inside apps, it has limited use as a digital AI assistant and is no more than a party trick.

But again, giving a program access to everything on your computer is a privacy nightmare. For Copilot to be as efficient as it is designed to be, it needs access to a lot of data. Many of you would not want anything to be able to read your email or remember your photos, however helpful that thing be in getting things done.

You might already know how large tech companies use your data for targeted advertisement. They also use your data to train their AI models. That is a lot more terrifying than being spammed by ads. These AI models are powerful―they can hurt you with the same efficiency with which they help you.