Dr. Peter Lee is a computer scientist, technology innovator, and Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research. He leads Microsoft’s New Experiences and Technologies organization (NExT), with the mission to create research-powered technologies and products, and to advance human knowledge through fundamental scientific research. While NExT openly publishes its research work, its technology projects are often conducted more secretly. Still, recently publicized projects are illustrative of Dr. Lee’s approach to bringing advanced research ideas into the real world, for example: advances in artificial intelligence, such as deep neural networks for computer vision and the simultaneous language translation feature in Skype; new silicon and post-silicon computer architectures for Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and experimental under-sea datacenters; next-generation augmented-reality experiences for HoloLens and virtual reality devices; large-scale digital storage in DNA; and AI-powered socio-technological experiments such as XiaoIce and Tay.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Dr. Lee held executive positions in both government and academia. At the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), he founded a new division focused on research and development programs in computing and related areas in the social and physical sciences. One example of his work at DARPA was the DARPA Network Challenge, an open competition that mobilized millions of people worldwide in a hunt for red weather balloons — a unique experiment in social media and open innovation that altered the thinking throughout the Department of Defense on the power of social networks.
Before DARPA, Lee served as Head of Carnegie Mellon University’s top-ranked computer science department and also briefly as the university’s Vice Provost for Research. As a Professor of Computer Science, he carried out research in computer security, software reliability, program analysis, and language design. He published over 90 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, several of which have been recognized with “test of time” awards, including the ACM SIGOPS 2006 Hall of Fame Award, for their seminal contributions to the field. At CMU, he was a devoted, award-winning teacher, and advised doctoral students to 15 completed Ph.D.’s who today are working across academia and industry.
Peter Lee is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a dedicated advocate for the academic research community, serving in a variety of national and international venues. In 2016, he was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He is a member of the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, where he recently chaired key studies on the impact of federal research investments on economic growth. Dr. Lee is a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, and the former Chair of Board of the Computing Research Association. In 2010, Dr. Lee co-chaired a review of federal investments in networking and information technology for the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Dr. Lee has also appeared before both the US House Science and Technology Committee and the US Senate Commerce Committee, testifying on the importance of federal investments in basic research – the Federal NITRD program and the America COMPETES Act – to the nation’s economy, global competitiveness, innovation, and national security. In the tech industry, Dr. Lee is a highly sought public speaker, widely quoted on industry trends and disruptive innovation organizations such as the New York Times, MIT Technology Review, Wired, Fast Company, The Economist, ArsTechnica, CNN, Seattle Times, and dozens of other universities and media outlets.
Chasing the Next Big Thing: Why Top Companies are Betting on Research
We are living in a world that is witnessing an incredible pace of innovation. Despite all the rapid advancements – or perhaps, because of them – top companies are working incredibly hard to find new ideas that will create new business opportunities. In other words, companies are more desperate than ever to find the Next Big Thing that will shake up the industry and create growth. What is remarkable today is that, in this quest, companies are increasingly turning to advanced research. This talk will outline the excitement in the industry that surrounds these eventful times, with a focus on the exhilarating journey that researchers are experiencing at Microsoft.