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New Microsoft AI and Research Group Formed Helping Accelerate New Capabilities

Microsoft has formed a new AI and Research Group, bringing together Microsoft’s world-class research organization with more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers focused on the company’s artificial intelligence product efforts.

The new group will be led by computer vision luminary Harry Shum, a 20-year Microsoft veteran whose career has spanned leadership roles across Microsoft Research and Bing engineering.

“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,” said Shum.

The company’s flagship AI product, Cortana, is available to all Windows 10 users – although its capabilities vary depending on which part of the world you’re in. “Today Cortana is serving 113 million customers and has answered over 12 billion questions.”

The Bing search engine has long benefited from strong partnerships between researchers and engineers, said Shum. And more “recent breakthroughs such as Microsoft Graph are the product of that same type of collaboration.”

Tools like Skype Translator, XiaoIce chatbot and the Cortana virtual assistant would not have been possible without years of investment in machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing.

In business, Cortana Intelligence Suite allows customers to take advantage of research and Bing innovations to create products that can enhance security, gauge people’s emotional state and recognize the world around us.

This week, most recent advances in infrastructure such as “an AI supercomputer in the cloud” was announced. In addition, CNTK, a deep learning toolkit for developers, is enabling customers to quickly build AI models on this infrastructure.

According to announcement, Microsoft is taking a four-pronged approach to democratize AI:

  • Agents: Harness AI to fundamentally change human and computer interaction through agents such as Microsoft’s digital personal assistant Cortana
  • Applications: Infuse every application, from the photo app on people’s phones to Skype and Office 365, with intelligence
  • Services: Make these same intelligent capabilities that are infused in Microsoft’s apps —cognitive capabilities such as vision and speech, and machine analytics — available to every application developer in the world
  • Infrastructure: Build the world’s most powerful AI supercomputer with Azure and make it available to anyone, to enable people and organizations to harness its power, company writes.
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