Microsoft researcher Eric Horvitz wins ACM-AAAI award for work in artificial intelligence

Laurent Giret

Artificial intelligence researcher and Managing Director of Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, research lab Eric Horvitz has just won the ACM-AAAI Allen Newell Award, Microsoft shared on a blog post today. The award acknowledges his groundbreaking contributions in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction as well as “his persistent focus on using those discoveries as the basis for practical applications that make our lives easier and more productive.”

Horvitz first got interested in practical applications of artificial intelligence when he was pursuing his Ph.D. on principles of bounded rationality, as he wanted to “understand how computing systems immersed in the real world could make the best decisions in time-critical situations.” Since then, Horvitz has combined multiple computer science disciplines through his work and he has been leading the research in exploring the interrelationships between artificial intelligence and fields like decision science, cognitive science, and neuroscience. Horvitz even collaborated with NASA’s Mission Control Center to help them providing flight engineers with the most valuable information about space shuttle systems under intense time pressure.

Jeannette M. Wing, the corporate vice president overseeing Microsoft’s core research labs, shared about Horvitz:

His impact is immeasurable. He asks big questions: How do our minds work? What computational principles and architectures underlie thinking and intelligent behavior? How can computational models perform amidst real-world complexities such as sustainability and development? How can we deploy computation systems that deliver value to people and society?

Thanks to recent breakthroughs in the availability of data, Horvitz’s award comes at a time when artificial intelligence applications are everywhere. Indeed, with Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant to become soon more proactive, the company is clearly pushing to create a world where technology is increasingly pervasive but also increasingly invisible. As Horvitz explains, “there’s a huge opportunity ahead in building systems that work closely with people to help them to achieve their goals.”

You can learn more about Eric Horvitz’s research and work over here, and you can also follow him on Twitter.