Microsoft has announced a reshuffle of its research division following the departure of Harry Shum earlier this year. Redmond has appointed a Chief Scientist to drive its efforts to have a more streamlined Microsoft Research business.
Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Labs, is now becoming chief scientific officer. Microsoft told CNBC that it's a new position in the company that will unify its Microsoft Research division.
While Microsoft Research was founded in 1991, it has been a disparate division. With Horvitz at the helm, Microsoft wants the business to more deeply integrate research projects and health care innovations.
The re-organization of Microsoft's research output comes after Shum departed last month. Shum was executive vice president for artificial intelligence and research, but announced he was leaving Microsoft last November. Kevin Scott, Microsoft's technology chief, took over from Shum and Microsoft created a new role to lead research.
“As Chief Scientist, Eric will provide cross-company leadership on advances and trends on scientific matters, and on issues and opportunities rising at the intersection of technology, people and society,” a Microsoft spokesperson says.
“He and his org will be responsible for advising on Microsoft's scientific directions and capabilities, including standing up new initiatives, providing guidance on company priorities and assessing important areas for investment in science and technology.”
Horvitz has been at Microsoft since 1993 and has deep connections to the company's research. He spent 16 years as a principal researcher before becoming the co-chair of Redmond's Artificial Intelligence and Ethics in Engineering and Research (AETHER) committee.
In a memo to Microsoft staff last year, CEO Satya Nadella confirmed Shum's departure.
“Harry has had a profound impact on Microsoft. His contributions in the fields of computer science and AI leave a legacy and a strong foundation for future innovation. I want to thank him for his leadership and partnership, and for all he has done for Microsoft.”