One of the birthplaces of artificial intelligence, MIT, has announced a bold plan to reshape its academic program around the technology.
The official announcement reads that with $1 billion in funding, MIT will create a new college that combines AI, data science and machine learning with other academic principles. It is the largest financial investment in AI by any US academic institution to date.
Their new college of computing is being built with $350 million in funding from Stephen A. Schwarzman, the CEO and cofounder of Blackstone, a private equity firm. Schwarzman has already donated billions to other institutions for studying issues related to AI.
Data and computing are already having a major impact on disciplines like the humanities, and machine learning and AI may have an even bigger one. The president of MIT Rafael Reif stated that the new approach was necessary because of the way computing, data, and AI are “reshaping the world”. He also added that students and researchers will be taught to use AI in their disciplines from first principles, instead of dividing their time between computer science and other departments.
A notable function of the new college will be encouraging students and researchers to think about the potential impact of computing and AI. This could prove increasingly important as the technology spreads. Computing is already affecting many areas of work. Big data has proved a key factor in influencing political views and machine learning will begin to affect everything from hiring to other important things.
MIT has already made several big commitments to AI over the past years. Earlier this year, the school announced an initiative, called the Quest for Intelligence, that aims to make breakthroughs in AI by bringing together researchers from cognitive science and neuroscience as well as computer science.
According to Schwarzman, the US government should be just as bold when it comes to artificial intelligence. He also said,
Our hope is that this ambitious initiative serves as a clarion call to our government that massive financial investment in AI is necessary to ensure that America has a leading voice in shaping the future of these powerful and transformative technologies.