In the single largest investment in computing and artificial intelligence (AI) by an American academic institution, MIT today announced on Oct. 15 a new $1 billion commitment to address the global opportunities and challenges presented by the prevalence of computing and the rise of AI.
At the heart of this endeavor will be the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, made possible by a $350 million foundational gift from Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, a global asset manager.
“As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to help make sure it does so for the good of all,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will constitute both a global center for computing research and education and an intellectual foundry for powerful new AI tools. Just as important, the College will equip students and researchers in any discipline to use computing and AI to advance their disciplines and vice-versa, as well as to think critically about the human impact of their work.”
The new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will be an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields.
The College will:
--reorient MIT to bring the power of computing and AI to all fields of study at MIT, allowing the future of computing and AI to be shaped by insights from all other disciplines;
--create 50 new faculty positions that will be located both within the College and jointly with other departments across MIT — nearly doubling MIT’s academic capability in computing and AI;
--give MIT’s five schools a shared structure for collaborative education, research, and innovation in computing and AI;
educate students in every discipline to responsibly use and develop AI and computing technologies to help make a better world; and
transform education and research in public policy and ethical considerations relevant to computing and AI.
“There is no more important opportunity or challenge facing our nation than to responsibly harness the power of artificial intelligence so that we remain competitive globally and achieve breakthroughs that will improve our entire society,”. Schwarzman says. “We face fundamental questions about how to ensure that technological advancements benefit all — especially those most vulnerable to the radical changes AI will inevitably bring to the nature of the workforce. MIT’s initiative will help America solve these challenges and continue to lead on computing and AI throughout the 21st century and beyond.”
The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will aspire to excellence in MIT’s three main areas of work: education, research, and innovation. It will teach students the foundations of computing broadly and provide integrated curricula designed to satisfy the high level of interest in majors that cross computer science with other disciplines, and in learning how machine learning and data science can be applied to a variety of fields. And it will seek to enable advances along the full spectrum of research — from fundamental, curiosity-driven inquiry to research on market-ready applications, in a wide range of MIT departments, labs, centers, and initiatives.
“As MIT’s partner in shaping the future of AI, IBM is excited by this new initiative,” says Ginni Rometty IBM chairman CEO. “The establishment of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing is an unprecedented investment in the promise of this technology. It will build powerfully on the pioneering research taking place through the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. Together, we will continue to unlock the massive potential of AI and explore its ethical and economic impacts on society.”
Sparking Thought Around Policy and Ethics
The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will seek to be not only a center of advances in computing, but also a place for teaching and research on relevant policy and ethics to better ensure that the groundbreaking technologies of the future are responsibly implemented in support of the greater good. To advance these priorities, the College will:
--develop new curricula that will connect computer science and AI with other disciplines;
--host forums to engage national leaders from business, government, academia, and journalism to examine the anticipated outcomes of advances in AI and machine learning, and to shape policies around the ethics of AI;
--encourage scientists, engineers, and social scientists to collaborate on analysis of emerging technology, and on research that will serve industry, policymakers, and the broader research community; and
--offer selective undergraduate research opportunities, graduate fellowships in ethics and AI, a seed-grant program for faculty, and a fellowship program to attract distinguished individuals from other universities, government, industry, and journalism.
“Computing is no longer the domain of the experts alone. It’s everywhere, and it needs to be understood and mastered by almost everyone. In that context, for a host of reasons, society is uneasy about technology — and at MIT, that’s a signal we must take very seriously,” President Reif says. “Technological advancements must go hand in hand with the development of ethical guidelines that anticipate the risks of such enormously powerful innovations. This is why we must make sure that the leaders we graduate offer the world not only technological wizardry but also human wisdom — the cultural, ethical, and historical consciousness to use technology for the common good.”