What is generative AI?


Artificial Intelligence (AI) imitates human behavior by using machine learning to interact with the environment and execute tasks without explicit directions on what to output.

Generative AI describes a category of capabilities within AI that create original content. People typically interact with generative AI that has been built into chat applications. One popular example of such an application is Microsoft Copilot, a chatbot companion to browse the web more effectively.

Generative AI applications take in natural language input, and return appropriate responses in a variety of formats such as natural language, images, or code.

Natural language generation

To generate a natural language response, you might submit a request such as "Write a cover letter for a person with a bachelor's degree in history."

A generative AI application might respond to such a request like this:

Dear Hiring Manager, I am writing to express my interest in the position of...

Screenshot of an AI-generated cover letter for a person with a bachelor's degree in history.

Image generation

Some generative AI applications can interpret a natural language request and generate an appropriate image. For example, you might submit a request like "Create a logo for a florist business."

A generative AI application could then return an original new image based on the description you provided, like this:

Screenshot of an AI-generated image of a florist business logo.

Code generation

Some generative AI applications are designed to help software developers write code. For example, you could submit a request like "Write Python code to add two numbers." and generate the following response:

def add_numbers(a, b):
    return a + b