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MIT, IBM Open Artificial Intelligence Lab

Artificial intelligence graphic

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

7 September 2017. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM are establishing a joint lab to advance the state of knowledge and business impact of artificial intelligence. The lab, in Cambridge, Massachusetts near the MIT campus, is backed by $240 million in funding from IBM over 10 years.

The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab expects to conduct basic and applied research in artificial intelligence in four categories it calls pillars:

Advanced algorithms to expand machine learning and reasoning. The new algorithms plan to go beyond specialized tasks addressed today to more complex tasks requiring higher orders of learning, and using smaller stores of data than the large-scale databases now tapped.

Physics behind artificial intelligence. Researchers will investigate new materials and devices to support future computational architectures, including quantum computing for artificial intelligence. In these studies, research teams are expected to both use artificial intelligence to advance quantum computing, as well as apply quantum computing concepts to build algorithms for machine learning.

Artificial intelligence in industries. This part of the lab will develop new applications for artificial intelligence in fields such as health care and cyber security. These two fields overlap in the need to better protect medical data, but artificial intelligence can also help analyze medical images as well as personalize medical plans and treatments for patients.

Economic implications of artificial intelligence. Researchers expect to examine ways of expanding social and economic benefits of artificial intelligence to more people, companies, communities, and nations.

In a related effort, researchers in the joint lab, both faculty and students, will be encouraged to start new enterprises to commercialize their findings. The lab’s 100 scientists are also expected to publish their work and contribute to open-source collections.

In an online interview, Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering who negotiated the deal with IBM says, “The project will support many different pursuits, from scholarship, to the licensing of technology, to the release of open-source material, to the creation of start-ups. We hope to use this new lab as a template for many other interactions with industry.”

The joint lab plans to issue a call for proposals to scientists at IBM and MIT for ideas related to the four research pillars. Chandrakasan co-chairs the lab with Dario Gil, a research vice-president at IBM responsible for artificial intelligence.

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Disclosure: The author owns shares in IBM

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