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Why MIT’s $1 Billion Investment To Study AI Is A Bold Move

In a bid to reshape the future with artificial intelligence at the heart of it, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently made a strategic decision to invest $1 billion work on artificial intelligence and its ethical applications.

This is an unprecedented investment with a mission to advance research in business-critical applications and make an ethical and economic impact. Meanwhile, from an educational perspective, MIT had already taken several AI initiatives in its quest to mainstream AI education and reorient the field of study. MIT has the largest laboratory the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, set up in 2003 and has roots in two pioneering MIT labs: the Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Laboratory for Computer Science, which was established in the 1960s for a Department of Defense project.

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The new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will become a hub for advanced computing, teaching, research and also serve as a forum for policymakers and industry members to shape policies around ethics of AI.

The $1 Billion Investment Makes MIT The New Hub For AI And Research

The new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing made possible by a generous gift of $350 million from Stephen A Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm will also create 50 new faculty positions and many more fellowships for graduate students.


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This announcement came close on a 10-year partnership agreement with IBM wherein the tech giant committed $240 million for fundamental research in AI and launch companies based on the new technology. In fact, earlier in the year, MIT also set up university-wide effort, dubbed as MIT Intelligence Quest to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration among researchers working on artificial intelligence.

With a view to overhauling present education structure and researching about where computing plays a pivotal role, MIT is now lending semblance to its five schools with a shared structure for collaborative education, research, and innovation in computing and AI. This is also viewed as a genuine enthusiasm for AI and machine learning, which are becoming the hottest subjects on campus. The school also dubbed as it as the “most significant structural change to MIT since the early 1950s” comparing it to the foundation of the Sloan School of Management and the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

The $1 Billion Investment And Initiative Is A Bold Move

  • This is a first of its kind university-wide impact which will also create 50 new faculty positions in the college
  • With ethical AI emerging as a topic of discussion, the College also aims to bolster the conversation around ethics and policy implications of AI, an emerging area of concern among IT heavyweights. In fact, MIT has emphasised that technological advancement and ethical guideline should go hand-in-hand.
  • With AI becoming the new business agenda for both public and private sector, the $1 billion will also serve as a clarion call to other leading educational institutes and the Government to advance AI along the full spectrum with an integrated curriculum which will combine fundamentals in ML and data science.
  • The curricula are also designed to connect computer science and AI with other disciplines such as humanities required for shaping the conversation on ethics in AI and policymaking. Besides humanities, students in other disciplines like biology, physics, chemistry, or even linguistics are expected to build knowledge in ML.
  • This will also fuel more industry-academic collaborations and advance innovation in AI hardware, software, algorithms and mobilise talent. Earlier in September, IBM inked an agreement with MIT by signing a 10-year, $240 investment in new lab aimed to bridge the gap between science and technology by bringing to life practical AI solutions for commercial and social purpose. This new lab is also the longer university-industry collaboration and will be located on MIT campus and at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge.  

Outlook

Globally, AI and ML talent shortage have been the two key talking points in the industry and the $1 billion investment is a commitment to training the next generation of AI and ML enthusiasts. With the current supply-demand imbalance, the initiative is a wake-up call to government and industry bodies to reshape education and tackle the talent crunch. And universities are a good starting point for AI development since they are best positioned for fostering an environment of curiosity and enthusiasm in the field.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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