In brief: We've all heard of the traditional executive positions in a major corporation: the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and so on. However, Microsoft is expanding their standard Chief Officer line-up with a new role: Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).
This role is a first for Microsoft -- it's never had a CSO before, and probably never saw a need for one. However, as part of a broader "restructuring" effort, Eric Horvitz will be stepping in to take on the new mantle and its associated responsibilities. Horvitz is not the most well-known figure in the tech industry, but he been working with Microsoft for over two decades now in some capacity.
Horvitz is already the director of Microsoft's Research Labs (which, as you might expect, focuses on R&D), but now, he could have a much bigger impact on the company's science-related policies moving forward. According to a Microsoft spokesperson who spoke to CNBC, Eric will provide "cross-company leadership" on advances in trends in the scientific community, while also keeping other members of leadership apprised of any important issues or juicy opportunities that may arise.
Microsoft is particularly interested in using Horvitz to learn more about how it can involve itself in the "intersection of technology, people, and society," whatever that means. Corporate mumbo-jumbo aside, it sounds like Horvitz will be taking on more of an advisory role than a commanding one, but that could certainly change as he settles in. After all, in the long term, it may be beneficial for Microsoft to unify its scientific initiatives under one vision.
Nonetheless, we'll keep you updated if Horvitz comes up with any interesting project ideas. Hopefully, the role of Chief Scientific Officer proves to be more than just a fancy title down the road.