Microsoft released an ad last month bragging that thanks to its Copilot AI, office workers can be "in three meetings at once" — a bizarre claim that seemingly forgets one nagging detail: why would anybody possibly want that?

As Fortune reports, the perplexing ad has resurfaced online, where it's been met by confusion and disdain.

"I’m not an expert on Microsoft Copilot, but what feature specifically is enabling this to work?" said a software engineer and social media personality who goes by Alberta in a recent video. "This is implying they got the AI sitting in the meeting for her, but I haven’t heard about that feature."

While it's unclear what Microsoft was implying with the ad, it's a baffling idea to imagine conference rooms full of AIs conducting meetings on behalf of humans. At that point, you might ask, why would these meetings even have to take place at all?

"Most meetings could be a well-written email," one user commented on Alberta's video.

Then there's the propensity of large language models (LLMs) to hallucinate, which could easily throw the workplace into chaos if allowed to make decisions.

Nonetheless, companies have long hinted at the possibility of having AI-powered avatars attend work meetings on your behalf, a confounding vision of the future of office work.

For now, Microsoft claims that Copilot — in its current form — can quickly summarize Teams meetings, allowing workers who couldn't attend to catch up quickly.

But plenty of questions arise when it comes to having an AI avatar attend several meetings at once, a far more ambitious vision for the tech.

"You can see how that doesn’t really solve the overall systemic problem with too many meetings," Georgetown University management professor Jeanine Turner told Fortune. "It just allows people to go to more meetings. Because three — why stop at three?"

The news comes a week after Zoom CEO Eric Yuan claimed that the conferencing platform was working on "digital-twin technology" that would allow workers to have AI avatars attend meetings for them.

"I can send a digital version of myself to join so I can go to the beach," he told The Verge. "You do not need to spend so much time [in meetings]. You do not have to have five or six Zoom calls every day. You can leverage the AI to do that."

Sam Liang, CEO of transcription service Otter, similarly told Business Insider earlier this year that a "working prototype" of a meeting-attending AI avatar could be ready by "later this year."

"It needs to have the knowledge and emotional intelligence," he added, "to participate in a productive way."

The trend of being stuck on endless Zoom calls skyrocketed during the pandemic, with workers zoning out and becoming increasingly disconnected. The term "Zoom fatigue" became a hot-button topic, with experts suggesting staring at a screen to engage with their coworkers for hours at a time may lead to burnout.

But, as Turner argues, tools like "digital twins" could make things even worse instead of better.

"They are really just perpetuating the madness," she told Fortune.

Others aren't convinced we'll ever send AI avatars to a boardroom to make decisions without us present, especially considering the technology's glaring shortcomings.

"[Large language models] are useful tools for thought," AI expert Simon Willison told The Guardian, dismissing the idea of AI avatars as "pure AI science fiction thinking."

"They are terrible tools for delegating decision-making to," he added. "That’s currently my red line for using them: any time someone outsources actual decision-making authority to an opaque random number generator is a recipe for disaster."

More on AI meetings: CEO Says Later This Year, Your AI Will Be Able to Attend Meetings For You

Share This Article