Microsoft appoints Eric Horvitz as Chief Scientist, unifies research groups

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Last November, Microsoft announced that Harry Shum was stepping away from the company (he left officially last month), and today, word is out that the company is consolidating its scientific and research efforts by appointing a new Chief Scientist, according to CNBC. Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s Chief Technical Officer, had taken over as head of AI and research from Shum. Microsoft Technical Fellow Eric Horvitz will assume that role, the first time Microsoft has had a single chief science officer. Peter Lee, who has been the CVP for Microsoft Healthcare, will now also be in charge of Microsoft Research, as efforts in healthcare are being more closely aligned with research.

Microsoft told CNBC through a spokesperson that

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. 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.

It’s pretty obvious on a day that the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, but health is becoming a much bigger concern for technology companies (along with everyone else). The White House is reportedly calling in leaders from tech companies, including Microsoft, to discuss ways to better deal with the now pandemic.