Microsoft challenges Google and Deepmind with new AI lab

Microsoft just announced that they will create a new AI lab called “Microsoft Research AI”. The big news is that they will focus on “general purpose artificial intelligence” rather than AI that can only perform a single task, such as image recognition.  A general intelligence (AGI) is the intelligence of a machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. It is a primary goal of some artificial intelligence research and a common topic in science fiction and future studies. This is the same goal that Google are pursuing.  Google is trying to create a General AI through its program Google Brain, as well as with Deep mind, that it acquired a few years ago. The lab will be located at the Microsoft HQ in Redmond and will have more than 100 working scientists.

“The goal is to combine these disciplines to work toward more general artificial intelligence, meaning a single system that can tackle a wide-range of tasks and problems. Such a system, for instance, might be able to both plan the best route to drive through a city and also figure out how to minimize your income tax bill, while also understanding difficult human concepts like sarcasm or gestures.”

Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Labs

AI ethics panel & AI for environment

Apart from the new lab, Microsoft will also add an new ethics panel that oversee the AI development. Previously Microsoft has worked together with Google, Facebook, IBM and Amazon on a multi-company partnership for AI ethics. Microsoft is also starting a new project called “AI for Earth” that will use AI for research on climate change, agriculture and other environment topics.



References: Microsoft Blog, Bloomberg, Techcrunch
Image credit: Microsoft blog