15 December, 2017

Microsoft’s talk on “Co-Evolution of Artificial Intelligence and Human Intelligence”

HKUST BDI has the honour to have Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft, Chairman of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific R&D Group, Managing Director of Microsoft Research Asia, to give a talk to students and academics on the Friday morning of 15 December 2017. Dean of Engineering Prof Tim Cheng hosted the opening and introduced Dr. Hon personally at this IAS-SENG joint lecture. Dr. Hon is the long term friends of many of the CSE faculty members, and many professors from the department attended his talk, apart from a full house of attendance with other faculty and students alike.

In recent years, there have been much progress in machine learning in the areas of computer vision, speech, natural language processing, and other domains. Yet, there remain many challenging situations where better machine learning algorithms are necessary. There are cases where teaching signals and evaluation metrics are very clear. There are also scenarios where evaluation metrics can be subjective and one would need to rely on real world feedback for better learning. In this talk, Dr. Hon presented some of the recent work in helping machines learn from Microsoft Research Asia, such as dual learning and self-generated data learning. Furthermore, he has highlighted some important challenges for machine learning. Lastly, as artificial intelligence makes bigger impact on society, people also need to adapt to enhance their skills. Hence he also talked about some recent work on using machine to help people learn.

His clear and lively explanation of the hot topic of AI and its evolution drew very great impact to the audience. He step by step analyzed his so-called Intelligence Hierarchy, right from the bottom of Computation and Memory, to Perception, then Cognition, Creativity and all the way up to Wisdom, tells the difference and capability of AI, and why he thinks the way forward should be a world combining AI and HI (Human Intelligence). His vivid examples showing how machine learning has been transforming, with chatbot Xiao Ice is now able to “write” poems, lyrics and even songs were so fun that drew much laughter and applause from the audience. Even Prof Cheng was attracted to use Dr. Hon’s powerpoint slide photo of the Intelligence Hierarchy to instruct Xiao Ice wrote a poem about it, where he later read it aloud to the audience at the closing of the talk, that drew another round of laughter among the audience.

Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon is corporate vice president of Microsoft, chairman of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific R&D Group, and managing director of Microsoft Research Asia. He drives Microsoft’s strategy for research and development activities in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as collaborations with academia.

Dr. Hon has been with Microsoft since 1995. He joined Microsoft Research Asia in 2004 as deputy managing director, stepping into the role of managing director in 2007. He founded and managed Microsoft Search Technology Center from 2005 to 2007 and led development of Microsoft’s search products (Bing) in Asia-Pacific. In 2014, Dr. Hon was appointed as chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group.

Prior to joining Microsoft Research Asia, Dr. Hon was the founding member and architect of the Natural Interactive Services Division at Microsoft Corporation. Besides overseeing architectural and technical aspects of the award-winning Microsoft Speech Server product, Natural User Interface Platform and Microsoft Assistance Platform, he was also responsible for managing and delivering statistical learning technologies and advanced search. Dr. Hon joined Microsoft Research as a senior researcher in 1995 and has been a key contributor to Microsoft's SAPI and speech engine technologies. He previously worked at Apple, where he led research and development for Apple's Chinese Dictation Kit.

An IEEE Fellow and a distinguished scientist of Microsoft, Dr. Hon is an internationally recognized expert in speech technology. Dr. Hon has published more than 100 technical papers in international journals and at conferences. He co-authored a book, Spoken Language Processing, which is a graduate-level textbook and reference book in the area of speech technology used in universities around the world. Dr. Hon holds three dozen patents in several technical areas.

Dr. Hon received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from National Taiwan University.