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Microsoft is expanding its AI-powered Bing search and Edge browser’s reach to the public amid concerns about potential risks


Microsoft on Thursday expanded public access to generative artificial intelligence software, despite concerns that tech companies are rushing ahead too quickly with potentially dangerous technology.

The AI-enhanced features of the company’s Bing search engine and Edge internet browser are now open for anyone to use, Yousef Mahdi, the company’s vice president, said in a blog post.

“This means that it will now be easier than ever for everyone to try out the new Bing and Edge just by signing in to Bing with your Microsoft account,” Mahdi said.

The services have been enhanced with the ability to work with images as well as text, and Microsoft intends to add video to the mix, according to the CEO.

Mehdi said Bing has recently integrated an “Image Creator” into his chatbot repertoire, allowing him to create both visual and written content.

“We are expanding Image Creator to all languages ​​in Bing,” he added.

“So now you can create images in your native language.”

AI risks include potential uses for fraud, through fake audio transcriptions, videos, and disguised written messages.

A number of experts urged in March that development of strong AI systems be halted to allow time to ensure they are secure.

Their open letter, signed by more than 1,000 people, including billionaire Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, was prompted by generative AI technology from Microsoft-backed company OpenAI.

“AI systems with human competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity,” the letter states.

“Strong AI systems should only be developed once we are confident that their effects will be positive and that their risks will be under control,” she said.

A prominent computer scientist often dubbed the “Godfather of Artificial Intelligence” recently quit his job at Google to speak out about the dangers of the technology.

It makes sense to halt the development of artificial intelligence, Jeffrey Hinton said at an MIT forum on Wednesday. However, he added that the idea is naive, given the intense competition between countries and companies involved in the sector.

Hinton, who creates some of the core technologies of AI systems, asserted that the existential threat from AI is “serious and imminent”.

In the three months since the AI-powered Bing and Edge were unveiled, more than half a billion conversations have taken place, according to Mehdi.

So far, Mehdi said, Microsoft has seen people make more than 200 million images with Bing Creator.

“We believe innovation and outdoor learning are part of a responsible approach,” he added.

“Our teams continue to work on issues such as misinformation and disinformation, content blocking, data security, and preventing the promotion of harmful or discriminatory content in line with our AI principles.”

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Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.