Research at Microsoft 2023: A year of groundbreaking AI advances and discoveries – Microsoft

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It isn’t often that researchers at the cutting edge of technology see something that blows their minds. But that’s exactly what happened in 2023, when AI experts began interacting with GPT-4, a large language model (LLM) created by researchers at OpenAI that was trained at unprecedented scale. 
“I saw some mind-blowing capabilities that I thought I wouldn’t see for many years,” said Ece Kamar, partner research manager at Microsoft, during a podcast recorded in April.
Throughout the year, rapid advances in AI came to dominate the public conversation (opens in new tab), as technology leaders and eventually the general public voiced a mix of wonder and skepticism after experimenting with GPT-4 and related applications. Could we be seeing sparks of artificial general intelligence (opens in new tab)—informally defined as AI systems that “demonstrate broad capabilities of intelligence, including reasoning, planning, and the ability to learn from experience (opens in new tab)”? 
While the answer to that question isn’t yet clear, we have certainly entered the era of AI, and it’s bringing profound changes to the way we work and live. In 2023, AI emerged from the lab and delivered everyday innovations that anyone can use. Millions of people now engage with AI-based services like ChatGPT. Copilots (opens in new tab)—AI that helps with complex tasks ranging from search to security—are being woven into business software and services.
Underpinning all of this innovation is years of research, including the work of hundreds of world-class researchers at Microsoft, aided by scientists, engineers, and experts across many related fields. In 2023, AI’s transition from research to reality began to accelerate, creating more tangible results than ever before. This post looks back at the progress of the past year, highlighting a sampling of the research and strategies that will support even greater progress in 2024.
AI with positive societal impact is the sum of several integral moving parts, including the AI models, the application of these models, and the infrastructure and standards supporting their development and the development of the larger systems they underpin. Microsoft is redefining the state of the art across these areas with improvements to model efficiency, performance, and capability; the introduction of new frameworks and prompting strategies that increase the usability of models; and best practices that contribute to sustainable and responsible AI. 
Microsoft uses AI and other advanced technologies to accelerate and transform scientific discovery, empowering researchers worldwide with leading-edge tools. Across global Microsoft research labs, experts in machine learning, quantum physics, molecular biology, and many other disciplines are tackling pressing challenges in the natural and life sciences.
As AI models grow in capability so, too, do opportunities to empower people to achieve more, as demonstrated by Microsoft work in such domains as health and education this year. The company’s commitment to positive human impact requires that AI technology be equitable and accessible.
While AI rightly garners much attention in the current research landscape, researchers at Microsoft are still making plenty of progress across a spectrum of technical focus areas.
Cross-company and cross-disciplinary collaboration has always played an important role in research and even more so as AI continues to rapidly advance. Large models driving the progress are components of larger systems that will deliver the value of AI to people. Developing these systems and the frameworks for determining their roles in people’s lives and society requires the knowledge and experience of those who understand the context in which they’ll operate—domain experts, academics, the individuals using these systems, and others.
Throughout the year, Microsoft continued to engage with the broader research community on AI and beyond. The company’s sponsorship of and participation in key conferences not only showcased its dedication to the application of AI in diverse technological domains but also underscored its unwavering support for cutting-edge advancements and collaborative community involvement.
Microsoft achieved extraordinary milestones in 2023 and will continue pushing the boundaries of innovation to help shape a future where technology serves humanity in remarkable ways. To stay abreast of the latest updates, subscribe to the Microsoft Research Newsletter (opens in new tab) and the Microsoft Research Podcast (opens in new tab). You can also follow us on Facebook (opens in new tab), Instagram (opens in new tab), LinkedIn (opens in new tab), X (opens in new tab), and YouTube (opens in new tab). 
Writers, Editors, and Producers
Kristina Dodge
Kate Forster
Jessica Gartner
Alyssa Hughes
Gretchen Huizinga
Brenda Potts
Chris Stetkiewicz
Larry West
Managing Editor
Amber Tingle
Project Manager
Amanda Melfi
Microsoft Research Global Design Lead
Neeltje Berger
Graphic Designers
Adam Blythe
Harley Weber
Microsoft Research Creative Studio Lead
Matt Corwine
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