Microsoft is getting very serious about its artificial intelligence game. After partnering with four of the biggest technology companies today for Partnership on AI, the software giant announced the formation of a dedicated AI group called the Microsoft AI and Research Group.
The new group will be led by computer vision luminary Harry Shum, a 20-year Microsoft veteran with careers spanning leadership roles across Microsoft Research and Bing engineering. The new group will house 5,000 computer scientists and engineers which will be focused on advancing Microsoft’s efforts in the AI field.
“Microsoft has been working in artificial intelligence since the beginning of Microsoft Research, and yet we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” said Shum, executive vice president of the Microsoft AI and Research Group. “Today’s move signifies Microsoft’s commitment to deploying intelligent technology and democratizing AI in a way that changes our lives and the world around us for the better. We will significantly expand our efforts to empower people and organizations to achieve more with our tools, our software and services, and our powerful, global-scale cloud computing capabilities.”
Aside from Shum’s leadership team, the new group will also be joined by Microsoft’s other engineering leaders and teams including Information Platform, Cortana and Bing, and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams led by David Ku, Derrick Connell and Vijay Mital.
For its AI approach, Microsoft is taking a four-pronged approach:
- Agents, that harness AI to fundamentally change human and computer interaction via Microsoft’s Cortana
- All of Microsoft’s applications, including Skype and Office 365 are infused with intelligence
- Microsoft is making its intelligent capabilities available to every application developer
- They will build the world’s most powerful AI supercomputer with Azure and make it available to anyone so they can harness its power.
By some estimates, the AI market is projected to be worth $5.05 billion by 2020. That is a tremendous amount of growth that makes a move like this quite logical. Microsoft and other big companies are heavily investing in this space, which is hardly a surprise given the size of this growing pot. Let’s just hope that they keep to their promise that AI won’t be used to create robot overlords but will be used to elevate people’s quality of life.
Image source: Freepik