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Russian search engine operator Yandex today announced the launch of a machine intelligence and research (MIR) group. The move brings Yandex more in line with Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo, which have employed researchers to explore artificial intelligence (AI).

To lead the new organization Yandex has selected Misha Bilenko, who spent a decade at Microsoft, most recently as head of the machine learning algorithms team in Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise unit. Before that, Bilenko was a researcher in Microsoft Research’s machine learning department. Bilenko is now based in Moscow, where Yandex is headquartered.

While Baidu, Google, and Microsoft have their own open source frameworks for deep learning, a popular type of artificial intelligence (AI) — Baidu has Paddle, Google has TensorFlow, Microsoft has CNTK — Yandex boasts something called DaNet, whose team will be part of the new MIR group, according to a corporate blog post. Teams focusing on computer vision, speech recognition, and machine translation will also join the new group, Yandex said.

“From speech-to-speech translation to virtual assistants that chat with people and use cameras to see, the MIR division offers amazing opportunities for synthesis and cross-pollination within Yandex’s machine learning, computer vision, speech and translation technologies. By bringing team members from these core technologies together, the MIR division will improve Yandex’s machine and natural processing capabilities, enhancing its products and services and ultimately delivering consumers and businesses a better experience,” Yandex said in the blog post.

Google, which operates the Google Research and DeepMind organizations, recently established a Cloud Machine Learning group led by Fei-Fei Li and Jia Li. Microsoft recently formed the AI and Research Group that includes Microsoft Research.


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