Microsoft Build: New AI dev tools turn pictures into apps, summarize text, and write code automatically

Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference, which starts Tuesday morning, will provide a new glimpse of the ways that artificial intelligence is automating software development, and helping developers provide AI tools to end users.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address starting at 8:15 a.m. Pacific. Watch via the live stream above, or the Build virtual event site.

Here are a few highlights, gleaned from information Microsoft provided in advance.

Code from pictures: A new feature in Microsoft’s Power Apps platform, called Express Design, promises to use AI to automatically turn images, documents, design files or presentations into working software — analyzing an image to determine the intended functionality. Microsoft says it will work with hand-drawn sketches, as well.

New OpenAI services: Microsoft will announce a limited access preview of its Azure OpenAI Service, which makes features of the GPT-3 natural language model available to developers. Part of Microsoft’s exclusive OpenAI partnership, the service was previously available by invitation only. Companies are using the service to summarize huge amounts of text.

AI programming: The company will announce the general availability of GitHub Copilot, an AI pair programming tool that suggests code based on a developer’s existing code and comments. Released in preview a year ago, Copilot is generating 35% of the code for developers using the tool in languages including Java and Python, the company says.

Neural processing dev kit: Microsoft and Qualcomm are announcing a new device called Project Volterra, a development kit that will come with a neural processor, giving developers the ability to make advanced AI applications in anticipation of everyday computers eventually getting these processors, known as NPUs.

Check back for additional coverage of Build as the event unfolds.

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