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Apple’s Siri boss moves to AI role with Microsoft

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Microsoft has hired Bill Stasior, the former head of Apple’s virtual assistant division, to lead AI projects for the veteran tech giant.

Stasior was previously President of Amazon Search at Amazon, and has also worked at AltaVista and Oracle. According to his online CV, he was vice president for AI and Siri at Apple from 2012 until earlier this year, having expanded the Siri team from 70 engineers to more than 1,100 people and brought “modern machine learning to Siri and Apple”. Apple’s virtual assistant is used on more than 500 million Apple devices.

Since May, Stasior has been advising genetic diagnostics and data company Avellino Lab.

Stasior’s move to Microsoft was first reported on by The Information following an update to his personal website this week. Stasior will be corporate vice president of technology, working alongside Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott.

Microsoft has since confirmed the hire, stating that Stasior will begin his work with Microsoft in August to “align technology strategies across the board”. Rather than working on Microsoft’s own virtual assistant (Cortana) – which has had support reduced and is being withdrawn from some consumer products with the possibility of becoming more of an enterprise tool – he is expected to head an AI group for developing and expanding Microsoft’s offerings of AI products.

It is not known whether he will lead a new group or take over an existing one.

Although Microsoft has lagged slightly behind competitors Google and Amazon in consumer and enterprise AI offerings, in 2016, Microsoft created the Artificial Intelligence and Research engineering group and listed AI as a key priority in its annual report. Microsoft has since recruited a number of small AI companies in (including AI start-ups Bonsai and Lobe), as well as shuffling AI specialists to the group dedicated to Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure.

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