AIPC: This Time, Generative AI Is Personal

Guess what? Generative AI is all about you now.

Microsoft just unveiled Copilot+, a generative AI model that lives inside laptops rather than in the cloud. That will give you a slew of new ways to help get more out of your meeting notes, calendar, photos, recordings, downloads – all your digital stuff. It could, for example:

  • Suggest scheduling your follow-up meeting with the boss at 11 a.m. Tuesday, because your notes suggest that meetings around that time are more productive.

  • Seek a photo of you and your grandmother on the beach when you were 7.

  • Find a clue for what to get for a friend’s birthday based on your recent conversations with them.

It’s what we always thought Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri might become. And maybe still will.

Next generation laptops offer ramped up use of AI
Next generation laptops offer ramped up use of AI

Copilot+ was unveiled ahead of Microsoft’s Build recent developer conference in Seattle. At the same time, a stable of PC makers – including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and Samsung – unveiled a new class of laptops called AIPCs, which are powerful and efficient enough to run on-device AI applications like Copilot+.

The first AIPCs are all built around Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus, which Microsoft says are currently the only Windows processors with enough horsepower to run Copilot+ effectively.

“So many people are so busy these days,” Alex Katouzian, Qualcomm’s Group General Manager of Mobile, Compute and XR, told me. “If we can ask our laptops to pull something together instead of searching everywhere for what we might need, we can save ourselves hours. I’m really looking forward to that.”

Generative AI spring

In what may become known as the generative AI spring, the status quo is changing dizzyingly fast – even for a technology that first floored us with its abilities just 18 months ago, when OpenAI first introduced ChatGPT, the Kleenex of generative AI models. Generative AI is so transformative because just about anyone who can speak or type can prompt it to write essays, create artwork and even program computers.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Gemini from Google grew even easier and more engaging to use. If demos at recent events are to be believed, the new models have impressively lifelike conversational abilities to help you write or even just brainstorm.

At this pace, it may soon be difficult to distinguish tackling tasks with AI models from collaborating with other humans.

And there is still a month left before summer, with more blockbuster events on the docket, including a big PC industry show in Taiwan called Computex and WWDC, Apple’s developer conference.

Laptop or cloud?

The cloud-based mega models can do everything that Copilot+ can do on a capable laptop – and more. Which raises the obvious question: Why bother building AIPC laptops at all?

To be sure, there are benefits to using generative AI on each. The largest generative AI models – and the unfathomably massive libraries of information they were trained on – are without a doubt more powerful, skilled – and now, conversational. But the biggest models and data stores are too big to fit in many data centers, let alone laptops.

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Plus, do you really need a generative AI model capable of creating a Rembrandt-styled painting to find a cousin in your photo collection? It’s overkill – like taking a piece of wood to Home Depot to have it sliced on their massive table saw when you could have just done it on the spot with your own tools.

Squeezing generative AI models into your laptop is not only more efficient. It’s also more private. Microsoft says that anything Copilot+ does stays on your laptop. So your personal information won’t find its way into the cloud, where it could be accessed by others to train new models. Or worse.

Do you need an AIPC?

In a word, no. Many recent laptops are powerful enough to tackle Copilot+. But they will drain your battery. So don’t unplug them.

The new AIPC laptops are built around processors with highly focused, efficient engines that can handle anything Copilot+ and other AI applications give them. And they won’t drain your battery.

Today, Microsoft says that Qualcomm is the only PC processor supplier with an AI engine – NPU in industry parlance – powerful and efficient enough to make the AIPC cut. But things are changing fast.

Watch for AMD and Intel to have their own AIPC coming-out parties next month at Computex. And what Apple ends up unveiling at WWDC is anyone’s guess.

And of course, you haven’t heard the last from Qualcomm.

“This is just the beginning,” Katouzian agreed.

USA TODAY columnist Mike Feibus is president and principal analyst of FeibusTech, a Scottsdale, Arizona, market research and consulting firm. Reach him at Follow him on Twitter @MikeFeibus.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Microsoft's AI model lives inside laptops instead of the cloud