Microsoft is forming a new research group focused on artificial intelligence, the company announced Thursday.
Led by Harry Shum, a former corporate VP for Bing with 20 years of Microsoft service under his belt, the 5,000-strong AI and Research Group will bring an AI emphasis to all the company’s platforms and services. It will incorporate a number of existing Microsoft teams, including Cortana and Bing, Ambient Computing and Robotics.
The reorganization comes as Microsoft is stepping up its AI game, with CEO Satya Nadella devoting a large part of his speech at this week’s Ignite conference to the subject. It also reflects the departure of Executive Vice President Qi Lu, who led Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group and is resigning for health reasons, according to the company.
“We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in computing that is unlike anything we have seen in decades,” Nadella wrote in an email to employees about the changes that was obtained by ZDNet. “This will lead to artificial intelligence (AI) being infused broadly into our computing platforms and experiences.”
The new group will tackle four major areas of AI, according to Microsoft: Creating and deploying intelligent ‘agents’ such as Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana; incorporating AI into all Microsoft applications; making capabilities like machine analytics and speech recognition available to developers as services; and using Azure to build “the world’s most powerful supercomputer.”
The company made a point to say that it’s hiring for this new division. You can read Microsoft’s description of its AI strategy here.