Microsoft creates new AI lab to build the holy grail of general AI

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Microsoft has created a new research lab aimed at creating more general-purpose learning systems based on artificial intelligence. The lab will be located at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters with a team of over 100 scientists working on AI, from various fields including natural language processing, learning and perception systems.


"The group will tackle some of the hardest problems in AI and accelerate the integration of the latest AI advances into products and services that benefit customers and society, Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Microsoft AI and Research Group wrote in an official blogpost.

"Another core goal of Microsoft Research AI is to reunite AI research endeavors such as machine learning, perception and natural language processing that have evolved over time into separate fields of research. This integrated approach will allow us to develop sophisticated understandings and tools that can help people do complex, multifaceted tasks," he added.

In a bid to develop a single system that can tackle a wide-range of tasks and problems, Microsoft enters a zone which is already populated by players like London-based DeepMind and San Francisco-based Google Brain, both divisions of Alphabet, as well as OpenAI, whose founders include Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.

Following the latest trend of tie-ups with academic institutions, the lab will also formally partner with MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines.  Besides, Microsoft will be setting up an AI ethics oversight panel that will act in an advisory capacity across the company, Bloomberg says.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is creating a new project called AI for Earth that will provide $2 million in cloud-computing credits and training in machine learning techniques to scientists doing research on sustainability issues related to agriculture, water, biodiversity and climate change. The Redmond-based company also recently teamed up with tech majors like FacebookGoogleAmazon and IBM “to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.”

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