Microsoft launched its first features in a customer product powered by GPT-3, the powerful natural language model developed by OpenAI, to help users build apps without needing to know how to write computer code or formulas.
GPT-3 will be integrated in Microsoft Power Apps, the low code app development platform that helps to build applications to improve business productivity or processes.
The new AI-powered features will allow an employee building an eCommerce app to describe a programming goal using conversational language like “find products where the name starts with ‘kids’.”
A fine-tuned GPT-3 model then offers choices for transforming the command into a Microsoft Power Fx formula, the open source programming language of the Power Platform, according to Microsoft.
It’s one of the first implementations showing how GPT-3, running on Microsoft Azure and powered by Azure Machine Learning and one of the first internal uses of its new managed endpoints capability, can solve real-world business needs on an enterprise scale, Microsoft said.
With new features powered by GPT-3, Microsoft Power Apps users can describe a programming goal in conversational language and have it automatically transformed into Power Fx code.
Built by OpenAI, GPT-3 is a massive natural language model that runs exclusively on Azure. Through a partnership with OpenAI, Microsoft has a licence to the code behind the GPT-3 model that allows it to integrate the technology directly into its products.
With the new GPT-3-powered features, a person can get the same result by typing plainspoken language like: “Show 10 orders that have strollers in the product name and sort by purchase date with newest on the top.”
The features don’t replace the need for a person to understand the code they are implementing but are designed to assist people who are learning the Power Fx programming language and help them choose the right formulas to get the result they need. That can dramatically expand access to more advanced app building and more rapidly train people to use low code tools.
The new features announced at Microsoft Build will be available in preview in the English language throughout North America by the end of June.
Using an advanced AI model like this can help our low-code tools become even more widely available to an even bigger audience.
“GPT-3 is the most powerful natural language processing model that we have in the market, so for us to be able to use it to help our customers is tremendous,” said Bryony Wolf, Power Apps product marketing manager. “This is really the first time you’re seeing in a mainstream consumer product the ability for customers to have their natural language transformed into code.”
GPT-3 is part of a new class of models, which Microsoft is broadly exploring through its AI at Scale initiative, that learn from examining billions of pages of publicly available text. They so deeply absorb nuances of language, grammar, knowledge concepts and context that the same model is able to perform a broad set of tasks that involve generating text.
OpenAI released an Azure-powered API last year that allows developers to explore GPT-3 capabilities. Since then, people have used it to do everything from writing poetry and tweets to generating articles, summarising emails, answering trivia questions and generating computer code from plain language.
This discovery of GPT-3’s vast capabilities exploded the boundaries of what’s possible in natural language learning, said Eric Boyd, Microsoft corporate vice president for Azure AI. But there were still open questions about whether such a large and complex model could be deployed cost-effectively at scale to meet real-world business needs.
“We’re finding ways to bring it into Azure and our mainstream products,” Boyd said.
Microsoft plans to infuse Power Fx into other tools within Power Platform, at which time the new natural language features powered by GPT-3 will expand into those products as well.