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MIT to open AI college

University Business, December 2018

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is quickly becoming commonplace in computers and consumer electronics.

The term refers to the ability of computers to be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.

Everything from the personal assistant on your smartphone to self-driving cars incorporates some form of artificial intelligence.

MIT is betting the technology will become so ubiquitous in daily life it is investing more than $1 billion to create a dedicated AI college, combining AI, machine learning and data science with other academic disciplines.

It’s the largest financial investment in AI by any U.S. academic institution.

The Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing will have 50 new faculty positions—25 to be appointed to advance computing in the college, and 25 to be appointed jointly in other academic departments across MIT.

Scheduled to open in September 2019, the school will use existing spaces before moving into its own dedicated space in 2022.

MIT President Rafael Reif said the new college would “educate the bilinguals of the future”—people who work in fields such as biology, chemistry and political science who are also skilled in computing techniques that can be applied to those subjects of study.

“We have to move much faster educating the next generation for the new economy,” Reif said in a statement. “The way to do that is to come up with integrated curriculum. That’s what the college is all about.”

MIT has already made significant advancements in AI research, launching a program called Quest for Intelligence.

The initiative addresses two fundamental questions: “How does human intelligence work in engineering terms?” and “How can we use that deep grasp of human intelligence to build wiser and more useful machines, to the benefit of society?”

Provost Martin Schmidt notes the college could have a significant impact on global competitiveness and national security.

“Because the journey we embark on today will be institutewide, we needed input from across MIT in order to establish the right vision,” Schmidt said in a statement.

“Our planning benefited greatly from the imagination of many members of our community—and we will seek a great deal more input over the next year. By design, the college will not be a silo: It will be connective tissue for the whole institute.”