The headlines about problems with Microsoft’s Bing chatbot haven’t dulled Patrick Husting’s enthusiasm for generative artificial intelligence.
The software developer and entrepreneur believes this latest wave of AI will transform daily work and life — describing it as a fundamental shift on the scale of the PC, the internet, and the smartphone.
“If I’m a salesperson, if I’m a professor, if I’m a lawyer, it’s not going to replace my job … it’s going to augment me,” Husting says. “It’s going to make me smarter. It’s going to allow me to bring my facts in quicker. And it’s going to allow me to get through my job much more efficiently, much more accurately.”
Husting is the developer of a new third-party add-in called Ghostwriter that lets users query ChatGPT and other OpenAI language models in a sidebar, to have the AI chatbot generate responses and content directly in the document they’re drafting. It’s available for Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel, with other Office products coming soon.
The add-on for Excel, the newest addition to the lineup, not only suggests formulas but also finds and pulls in sample data from the web in response to user queries.
Husting is a Seattle-area business leader, serial entrepreneur, and software developer who worked in Microsoft’s consulting business in the late 1990s. He came up with the idea for Ghostwriter last fall when he was using ChatGPT for writing assistance, and got tired of cutting and pasting, and switching between windows.
He understands the benefits that big tech companies bring to this field, including the financial and technology resources to create and train the large language models needed to make AI work at this level.
However, he’s also wary of them on another level.
“I want people to benefit from this, and I’m a little worried that these big tech companies are the ones that are going to control it,” he says.
Husting sees an opportunity for independent developers to unlock the potential of artificial intelligence for users across different platforms. He already offers the ability to use different OpenAI language models, and he envisions ultimately giving users the option of using AI from multiple providers inside his add-ins.
“This is going to be the next big tech shift,” he says, “and I’m excited to be on that wave.”