Microsoft has created an AI & Research group, bringing together the existing Microsoft Research department with its Bing and Cortana product groups, Information Platform group – responsible, among other things, for Bing Advertising – and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams.
The resulting division will include more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers, and seems indicative of where Microsoft sees future growth for its business.
"As Satya Nadella said, we are pursuing AI so that we can empower every person and every organization with tools they can use to go solve the most pressing challenges of our society and our economy," said Harry Shum, executive VP of the new group.
"End-to-end innovation in AI will not come from isolated research labs alone, but from the combination of at-scale production workloads together with deep technology advancements in algorithms, systems and experiences. 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. I believe we have some of the best AI talent on the planet, and we’ll continue to attract even more."
AI seems to be a fairly consistent focus for Microsoft going forward. It was the core theme of the company's Build conference back in March, which introduced chatbots for Skype and expanded capabilities for Cortana – the virtual assistant which sits at the heart of Windows 10, and probably the most prominent example of AI at work in Microsoft's business today.