Automated Learning and Intelligence for Causation and Economics

Alice is a project to direct Artificial Intelligence towards economic decision making. We are building tools that combine state-of-the-art machine learning with econometrics – the measurement of economic systems — in order to bring automation to economic decision making. The heart of this project is a striving to measure causation: if you want to understand or make policy decisions in a complex economy, you need to know why the system moves the way it does.

Microsoft has a long tradition of work at the intersection of Economics and Computer Science, and this team brings together researchers from across Social Science, AI, and ML. The Alice project allows us to dramatically scale the success that we’ve had in adapting existing ML technology for economic applications and in developing new deep learning architectures for causal inference. All of our research is tied to concrete policy-relevant applications, including work on demand estimation and price optimization, on measuring effectiveness of advertising and sales strategies, and on the design of incentives for desirable healthcare and education outcomes. The goal is to use AI to improve and democratize economic research while taking from economic theory to push the frontier of AI.