Microsoft has unveiled several new initiatives which are intended to boost artificial intelligence research and emphasise its role in developing people and society.
Among the new initiatives are a new research team, Microsoft Research AI (MSRAI), a new program to make AI technology and tools available for free to organisations focused on sustainability and environment projects.
The MSRAI will bring together 100 engineers and researchers with a diverse set of expertise in all critical areas of AI research. The team will address the key areas of perception, learning, reasoning and natural language, and the intersection of these areas, to take AI to the next level. The team will also look at specific challenges and goals in AI development, such as creating more general intelligence among AI, and improving human-AI collaboration.
The AI for Earth program will focus on four main areas of environmental concern, water, biodiversity, agriculture, and climate change, and will connect organisations working in these fields with Microsoft tools, technology and resources to enable them to conduct deep research and analysis using AI.
Harry Shum, executive VP of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, said that the aim is to focus on positive usages of AI, that balance the opportunities with concerns around threats to jobs, security, ethics and so on.
“It all comes down to one thing for us at Microsoft when we think about AI, it is about people. It is about amplifying human ingenuity through intelligent technology. This is our guide for everything we do as a company,” Shum said.
Microsoft now has over 7500 people working in its AI and Research Division which was formed last September, Shum revealed, and the company is keen to ensure that there is open dialogue around AI and ensuring fairness, accountability, transparency and ethics (FATE) in AI adoption. Last year the company also launched the Partnership in AI with other organisations to promote ethical AI.