Illustration by TIME; reference image courtesy of Kevin Scott

Tech titans have not minced words about their quest for AI supremacy: “A race starts today,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on Feb. 7, announcing a new version of its Bing search engine driven by AI. One of Nadella’s strongest assets in this competition is Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s CTO and executive vice president of AI. Scott spearheaded Microsoft’s $1 billion investment in OpenAI in 2019, which immediately placed one of the world’s most advanced AI labs in Microsoft’s corner. OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman credited Scott with being “most of the reason why we’ve wanted to partner with Microsoft from the very beginning” in a podcast interview earlier this year. Microsoft injected an additional $10 billion into OpenAI this year.

Microsoft had a major AI hiccup in February, however, when a conversation between Bing’s new chatbot and New York Times columnist Kevin Roose went off the rails, with the AI demanding Roose leave his wife for it. Scott characterized the conversation as an “outlier” in an interview with the Verge but immediately ensured the AI’s code was tweaked to shut down its ability to wander into those types of conversations.

These days, one of Scott’s main AI priorities is the development of “copilots,” or AI assistants for virtually any task. The programming assistant GitHub Copilot, for example, is already helping more than 1 million developers code. Microsoft plans to add copilots to the Windows Terminal and Word—like a highly evolved version of Clippy—and hopes that in the future, these copilots will be an essential part of airline-ticket purchases, drug discovery, and much more.

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