Microsoft creates new combined AI, Research group

Harry Shum

Harry Shum, who has led the company's research efforts, will now take responsibility for the artificial-intelligence strategy, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is consolidating several of its research and artificial intelligence divisions into the Microsoft AI and Research Group, the Redmond, Wash., software giant announced September 29.

"The new group will provide greater opportunity to accelerate our innovation in AI, and to enable Microsoft to create truly intelligent systems and products for our customers", Shum wrote in a separate post. Together, Bing and Cortana, plus Microsoft's Information Platform and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams, will form the Microsoft AI and Research Group.

"We live in a time when digital technology is transforming our lives, businesses and the world, but also generating an exponential growth in data and information", says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Qi Lu, the Microsoft executive in charge of the software company's Applications and Services Group, is leaving the company to continue recovering from injuries reportedly suffered in a serious bicycle accident.

The Recode story said that some of Lu's duties would be taken over by corporate vice president Rajesh Jha, who now manages Outlook and Office 365 development.

Shum has been involved in some of Microsoft's biggest product efforts at the ground level of research, including the development of its Bing search engine, as well as in its efforts in computer vision and graphics: that is a mark of where Microsoft is placing its own priority for AI in the years to come. Most recently, he was corporate vice president for Office 365. He will be responsible for driving the Microsoft's overall AI strategy and forward-looking research and development efforts spanning infrastructure, services, apps and agents.

After his recovery, Nadella said, the plan is for Lu to return as a technology advisor to him and Bill Gates.

The move follows another announcement regarding AI from Microsoft this week, wherein the software giant said it was working with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and IBM on an initiative to allay public fears about the technology.

"We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in computing that is unlike anything we have seen in decades. To do this, we are infusing AI into everything we deliver across our computing platforms and experiences". Almost all of the workers are coming from the applications and services group.

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