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Microsoft reorganizes to create a dedicated AI division

Engadget Engadget 29/09/2016 David Lumb
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Microsoft has reorganized several disparate projects and programs into an entirely new Artificial Intelligence group. It will be the fourth major division after Windows, Office and cloud, reallocating over 5,000 computer scientists and engineers under its umbrella. The shift shows how much unified effort the tech giant believes the field needs, as well as internally standardized AI tech they can more easily integrate into customer products.

Microsoft Research chief Harry Shum will head the new AI division, according to GeekWire. In addition to his old department, the new group will include products like Cortana and Bing with the Ambient Computing and Robotics teams, as well as the company's Information Platform Group. Collecting them all under one banner suggests how standardized they want their AI tech to be between disparate programs. It's similar to how Microsoft internally pivoted to collectively harness the Internet in the mid-90s, GeekWire points out.

In a blog post, Shum said that the collaboration will build "an AI stack spanning infrastructure, services, apps and agents." That will permit Microsoft's mission shift to "democratize AI" by integrating it into more consumer, enterprise and developer projects. Hopefully, byproducts from the AI division's R&D will produce fewer missteps like last March's foul-mouthed Twitterbot and more advancements like their pilot project using AI to discover cancer treatments.

Microsoft blog

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