Microsoft has created a new research lab which will focus on general-purpose artificial intelligence (AI) technology development. The lab will be called Microsoft Research AI, and will capitalize on the company’s existing AI expertise while pursuing new hires from related fields like cognitive psychology. The lab will also seek out academic partnerships, including a formal collaboration with MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines. Located within Microsoft’s Redmond HQ, the lab will ultimately be home to a team of more than 100 AI scientists exploring learning, natural language processing, perception systems, and other areas.
The purpose of combining these disciplines and striving toward more general AI will be to develop a single system that can master a broad array of challenges and tasks. This mirrors a goal that other tech companies like Google are pursuing. This kind of system could ultimately plot out the most efficient route for a road trip, relate to a human conversation partner’s sense of humor, or even optimize a budget. This broader focus is in contrast with the more common and specific AI systems we see now, like those that perform facial recognition tasks.