Microsoft just gave us a small peek into its vision for the future of meetings and it’s slightly terrifying.
During a demo onstage at its Build developers conference, the company showed off a prototype device that combines computer vision and AI tools to become a kind of ultimate meeting assistant that can track literally everything you say.
The device, which was set up in a normal-looking conference room, uses facial and audio recognition to track everything happening in a given meeting. Its camera can recognize meeting participants as they walk in the room, while its microphones capture the audio. It then uses Microsoft’s AI tools to generate a real-time transcription as the meeting unfolds.
All of this can then plug into various Microsoft services, such as the Slack competitor Teams, to make meeting information and “insights” available to the appropriate people. It can also provide translations, in case there are team members who don’t speak the same language.
It was a pretty impressive demo overall, and the presenter noted that the system is able to learn about a specific team’s speech patterns, which helps it create accurate transcriptions even when people talk over each other or are in a room with a lot of ambient noise.
The device can also be used as an accessibility tool. A deaf engineer who participated in the demo noted that the tool helps her keep track of what’s going on in a meeting and makes it easier for her to participate.
At the same time, the prospect of an all-seeing, all-hearing AI that captures every utterance in every meeting is a slightly terrifying thought. Think about it for a second. Every random joke, side conversation or off-topic comment can be easily captured and perfectly transcribed by an AI for anyone to see after the fact.
It’s not difficult to imagine how this could be problematic even if you stay on topic, too. Not every meeting is as smooth and conflict-free as Microsoft’s demo. What if every heated exchange, every bad idea, could be captured for everyone to see for all of eternity? At the very least, you’d probably think twice about what you say in meetings.