Qi Lu at Microsoft Build 2016, before his departure from the company. (Microsoft Photo)
Qi Lu was a top engineering executive at Microsoft for eight years, leading products including Office and Bing, and shaping company’s artificial intelligence strategy under CEO Satya Nadella before leaving last year.
Now, Lu is chief operating officer at Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine. In an interview published this week by Wired, he offered insights on the state of artificial intelligence, including the competitive dynamics among the major players.
One of his insights: Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has succeeded largely because it has been rolled out on devices designed from the ground up for artificial intelligence, rather than starting on smartphones. Lu acknowledged that he and others at Microsoft underestimated Amazon’s AI potential at the outset.
Here’s how Lu explained the situation in the Wired interview with Jessi Hempel.
I worked on Cortana four and a half years ago. At the time we all were like, “Amazon, yeah, that technology is so far behind.” But one thing I learned is that in this race to AI, it’s actually more about having the right application scenarios and the right ecosystems. Google and Microsoft, technologically, were ahead of Amazon …read more