Author Topic: 7 ways to use Microsoft Copilot right 2/2  (Read 53 times)

Offline javajolt

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7 ways to use Microsoft Copilot right 2/2
« on: February 09, 2024, 02:30:02 PM »
◄ back part 1

To do it, launch the Copilot pane in Edge and click the Compose tab at the top. A screen appears with the following sections:

Write about: Here’s where you describe the draft you want written. Make sure to include the purpose of what you’re writing, what its audience will be, what you would like emphasized, and as much detail as possible. The more information you give Copilot, the better the results will be. You’ve got a maximum length of 2000 characters here, so you won’t need to be succinct. Don’t fret about exact wording — Copilot will do that for you. Just describe what you want done.

Tone: Here you can choose a tone for the draft: Professional, Casual, Enthusiastic, Informational, or Funny.  (I recommend staying away from Funny. Copilot is good at many things, but being funny isn’t one of them.) If none of these choices describe the tone you want, click the + button and type in the tone you’d like.

Format: Will this be an email? A blog post? Something best suited for a paragraph format? A bulleted list of ideas? Choose that in this section.

Length: You’ve got three choices: Short, Medium, or Long. The length of the generated draft varies according not just to whether you select Short, Medium, or Long, but also the tone you select — Enthusiastic, for example, creates significantly longer drafts than Professional. When I asked Copilot to compose a draft of a marketing document, the short professional draft was 100 words, the medium professional draft was 150 words, and the long professional draft was 250 words. The short enthusiastic draft was 250 words, the medium enthusiastic draft was 285 words, and the long enthusiastic draft was 375 words.

Once you’ve made your choices, click the Generate draft button. Copilot gets to work and writes a draft that it puts into the Preview area. After it creates the draft, you can copy it by clicking the Copy icon at the bottom of the Preview area.

If you’re not happy with the draft, click the Re-generate draft icon (two circular arrows) at the bottom right of the Preview area to have Copilot create a different draft.

Copilot will also suggest other pieces of information you might want to add to the draft. Just underneath the Preview area, it shows prompts that might be as broad as asking if you want more details added or as granular as asking if you want to add the dimensions of a product for which you’re writing a marketing pitch.

4. Use images in conversations with Copilot

Copilot is a text-based chatbot, so naturally you would expect all your interactions with it to be text-based. But that’s not the case. You can combine text with images in your conversations with it, which, when used correctly, can be a quite powerful tool.

The simplest example is getting information about a person, place, or thing. To test out the feature, I copied a photo of myself available on the internet into a conversation with Copilot, and said to Copilot, “Tell me about this person.” It correctly identified me and summarized basic information about me that is available widely on the internet. It did a surprisingly good job at this, including that I have frequently written about the ethical and social aspects of artificial intelligence, and noted a title of one of my recent columns.

I also pasted a photo of Dubai into a conversation with Copilot and asked it to “Tell me about this place.” Again, it did an excellent job of identifying the city and providing a great deal of information in a simple, coherent way.

To use an image in a conversation with Copilot, first find the image you want to use. It can be on your computer or on the internet. Next, type in what you want Copilot to do with the image — in my examples, to provide information about it. Then click the small icon at the bottom left of the text-input area. If you hover your mouse over it, the text reads “Add an image.” When you do that, a text box pops up. You can paste in the image or a link to the image, or instead click the Upload from this device link and then navigate to where the image is on your device.

After you’ve inserted the image, press the Enter key, and Copilot searches.

Note that if you use Copilot from the Edge sidebar, you can take a screenshot and insert it into your Copilot conversation. To do it, click the Add a Screenshot icon (a pair of scissors) at the bottom left of the Copilot input area. When you click it, you’ll be able to take a screenshot of a portion of your screen or the entire screen, which then gets automatically placed in the input area.

5. Don’t be fooled by Copilot’s hallucinations

Copilot appears to be an all-seeing, all-knowing font of information, able to pull up the most arcane facts on request. That’s not the case, though. In truth, it’s more like a not-always-reliable, self-taught polymath who, when confronted with a question he can’t answer, makes something up in order to appear more knowledgeable than he really is.

That’s because Copilot, like all genAI, is subject to what AI researchers call “hallucinations” but the rest of us call lies. Every genAI lies, often with serious consequences. Take the example of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who gave his own lawyer a group of legal citations to be used to convince a judge to free Cohen from the court’s oversight. Cohen used Google’s Bard AI to find them. But the citations were bogus — Bard hallucinated them.

Similarly, a lawyer named Steven Schwartz suing the airline Avianca for a client submitted a 10-page brief with more than half-a-dozen citations to a judge in support of the suit. The lawyer had used ChatGPT, the brains behind Copilot, to find the citations. ChatGPT hallucinated every single one of them. The New York Times has found a number of instances in which Bing Chat — the previous name for Copilot —  hallucinated incorrect information it attributed to the Times.

Don’t let this happen to you. When you use Copilot, double-check important facts and citations before using them. Typically, genAI doesn’t lie about easy-to-find straightforward facts. Rather, it’s more often arcane facts or highly specialized information like law cases that you need to be concerned about. So make sure to verify if Copilot’s so-called facts are really facts. Copilot typically includes citations for where it found information. Follow the link to each citation — you may find links to nowhere. You can use a search engine to double-check arcane facts as well.

Whatever you do, don’t ask Copilot to check those facts, because there’s a reasonable chance Copilot will say they’re true. That’s what happened to Schwartz. He asked ChatGPT to verify that the fake citations were real, and ChatGPT said they were. Instead, use a search engine and double-check the information yourself.

6. Check for Copilot plagiarism

Copilot sometimes has the opposite problem to hallucinations. Rather than make things up, it copies text verbatim — or nearly verbatim — from material it’s been trained on. That can be copyright infringement, whose use carries legal consequences. And even if there are no legal consequences, if you’re found violating copyrighted information at your workplace, you could be disciplined or be fired.

It’s difficult to know how often Copilot does this. But a New York Times lawsuit against Microsoft and ChatGPT cites several instances of ChatGPT, the brains behind Copilot, plagiarizing its articles, including a Pulitzer-Prize-winning, five-part 18-month investigation into predatory lending practices in New York City’s taxi industry. The suit charges: “OpenAI had no role in the creation of this content, yet with minimal prompting, will recite large portions of it verbatim.”

It can be tough to know when Copilot’s output plagiarizes copyrighted text. However, there are things you can do to reduce the risk. First, pay attention to the tone of Copilot’s answers to your prompts. Any sections that sound different from the rest or from its previous answers could signal a problem. Rewrite that section if you have any suspicions.

If you come across text you suspect might be plagiarized, copy a section of it into your search engine and do a search. That can find original text that Copilot has plagiarized. Also, follow the citation links at the bottom of Copilot’s response to you, read through them and see whether any text has been plagiarized.

You can also try using any of the many websites that claim they check for plagiarism. I’ve tried a number of them and have been underwhelmed by their usefulness. They’re generally good at finding obvious plagiarism — everyone I tried was able to say with certainty that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was written by a human, not a genAI like Copilot. But you’d be able to do the same thing on your own. However, if you want to use them, here are a few free ones to try: GPTKit, ZeroGPT, and Unicheck, which is available for free only for personal use. This article lists more, including several for-pay ones.

Finally, don’t use Copilot’s answer verbatim and pass it off as your own. Consider its output a first draft, not a finished piece of work.

Note that Microsoft indemnifies users of paid versions of Microsoft’s commercial Copilot services (such as Copilot for Microsoft 365) and Bing Chat Enterprise against claims of copyright infringement. However, that offer doesn’t extend to the free versions of Copilot covered in this article.

7. Remove the Copilot in Windows icon from the taskbar

Making better use of Copilot means not just knowing all the things it can do, but also the things it can’t. That way, you won’t waste your time wrangling with it.

Microsoft designed Copilot in Windows to function in two ways: to generate answers and other text (as you’d use it in Edge or Bing) and to do basic tasks in Windows itself, such as changing your desktop background. While it works perfectly fine for the former function, its integration with Windows has proven to be a bust.

When it was released in late September, it could do only the simplest of simple tasks — a handful of things like changing Windows to dark mode. By mid-December, nearly three months later, it had dramatically regressed, and now you’re lucky if you can get it to do anything at all. For instance, if you ask it to turn on dark mode, one of the few things it used to be able to do, it starts by saying, “I’m sorry for any confusion, but as an AI developed by Microsoft, I don’t have the ability to change the settings on your device.” Then it does an internet search and tells you how you can make the change yourself. There’s no need for AI to do that — you can just search the internet yourself.

If you’d like to register your displeasure about this, you can remove the Copilot in Windows icon from your taskbar. Right-click the taskbar, select Taskbar settings, and from the screen that appears, move the slider on Copilot from On to Off. Don’t worry, you can still access it if you’d like. To do it, press the Windows key + C.


Here’s where you can remove the Copilot icon from your taskbar. You can still run it by pressing Win
+ C.


Bonus tip: Tap into Microsoft’s Image Creator

Most people use Copilot and other genAI tools to create text-based content — summaries, articles, and marketing materials, among other things. But genAI also has the power to create images. Microsoft has an excellent AI image-creation tool, which it calls Image Creator, based on OpenAI’s DALL-E 3 image-generation model.

You can get to it by putting its icon on Edge’s sidebar and then clicking the icon. That way, it’ll be in easy reach whenever you want to use it. To do it:

   1. Click the + button at the bottom of the vertical row of icons running down the right side of Edge.

   2. In the “Discover more” area, click By Microsoft, then scroll down and click Image Creator from Designer.

   3. In the text box at the top of the screen, type in the image you want created — for example, “Eiffel Tower
       being scaled by an alien in climbing gear.”

   4. Image Creator will create multiple versions of the image you asked for. Click any of the images and it fills
       up the rest of your Bing screen. From here you can save it, share it, download it, and customize it.


Microsoft Image Creator in action.

If you want the Image Creator icon to stay permanently on the sidebar, right-click it and select Pin to sidebar. If you don’t do that, the icon will vanish after you close the pane.

Note for Mac users: The Image Creator by Designer app isn’t available in Edge on macOS, but a very similar app called “Designer (Preview)” is. You can find it by clicking the plus sign at the bottom of the Edge sidebar and searching for “designer.”

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« Last Edit: February 09, 2024, 03:46:26 PM by javajolt »