Gates: AI for the billions

August 8, 2001 | Source: KurzweilAI

SEATTLE, Aug. 8 – The vast majority of Microsoft research–included in the firm’s $5.3 billion R&D budget for FY 2002–is for AI-related projects, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said, speaking at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.
Microsoft’s research is focused on traditional AI areas, such as decision-making, learning, language, and speech recognition. “We are putting our money where our beliefs are: that these things will become real and allow us to build far, far better software products than we have today … for many hundreds of million if not billions of people who will be using and taking advantage of every day.”

Microsoft researchers showed several examples of current projects:

  • Distributed speech recognition with natural language processing to automatically fill in a form on a handheld wireless device, using a remote PC for processing.
  • Data mining tools: a dependency network, using a graphical display to see patterns of TV show viewing and Web Canvas, a data mining tool for analyzing visitor behavior on Web sites.
  • Search tools: SWISH (Searching With Information Structured Hierarchically) automated clustering of Web search results to form easy-to-browse natural categories to simplify searching. The tool uses machine learning techniques to build statistical models and automatically create directories.
  • Automated question answering, using information from the Web
  • Automated sensing and reasoning about context and interests to classify incoming messages by priority and relevance. Each incoming email message gets a dollar value and priority based on what the recipient is doing at that moment.
    Visual analysis to determine recipient activity

    Visual analysis to determine recipient activity

    Real-time spectral analysis to localize speakers in an office

    Real-time spectral analysis to localize speakers in an office

    “We’re proceeding full-speed ahead,” said Gates. “We look forward to delivering your work to hundreds of millions of users.” However, in a Q&A, Gates admitted some AI failures so far in “social user interfaces,” such as Microsoft Bob and the much-criticized Clippy, which he described as “too obnoxious.”

    “Unless there’s a deep model behind those anthropomorphic interfaces–until you cross over some threshold–it’s like speech recognition: it demos well and in practice, it’s kind of irritating. In think when you stand in front of your TV set in say, five years, we will have a rich-enough model. So we’re unabashed in terms of the approach, despite admitting our complete failures today.”