Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott takes over from Harry Shum as head of AI and Research

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott is going to be heading up Microsoft's combined AI and Research Group, effective immediately. Harry Shum, who has been heading up the group, is leaving the company, but there's no official word on where he's going.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Executive Vice President Harry Shum, the head of Microsoft AI and Research and a 23-year Microsoft veteran, is leaving the company in February 2020. Kevin Scott, Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer, will be taking on Shum's responsibilities in addition to his existing ones, according to an internal Microsoft announcement on November 13.

The change is effective immediately, even though Shum's last day will be February 1, 2020. He will be continuing as an advisor to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and company founder Bill Gates, officials said.

In a note about the transition, Nadella told Microsoft employees: "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."

There's no word on what's next for Shum, but he doesn't seem to be planning on retiring from the industry.

Microsoft created its AI and Research Group in 2016 by combining its Cortana, Bing, and Ambient Computing and Robotics engineering teams with part of its Microsoft Research. Shum was appointed head of that 5,000-person group at that time.

In the following years, Microsoft has moved a number of technologies out of the combined AI and Research group into various product teams. Among the former research technologies from this group that are now part of commercial product units are Cortana and Bing for Business (which is now known as Microsoft Search in Bing).

Scott, the former senior vice president of infrastructure for LinkedIn, was named Executive Vice President and company CTO in early 2017. He reports directly to Nadella and is part of the Microsoft Senior Leadership Team.

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) is working on three overlapping areas: Making deep learning "legible," applying Mixed Reality to the practical use of Deep Learning, and Data Dignity,  That team also is working on turning defining and creating new product opportunities in the Intelligent Edge, Intelligent Car, AI/ML, OSS, data security and privacy, and blockchain areas.

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