M.I.T. to create a college for AI backed by $1 billion

November 19, 2018 Cara Schwartzkopf

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced its plan to create the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing next year, backed by $1 billion in funding. The school aims to cultivate the next generations of “bilingual” students—meaning, they have a foundation in a field such as politics, chemistry, or history, but will also be trained to apply modern computing to their respective field.

To do this, MIT intends to rethink the traditional structure of colleges: rather than create a standalone department with a strictly defined focus, the AI college will work to cross departmental boundaries.

As an artificial intelligence company, we were interested in thoughts from our team on the new venture. Keith Moore, the Director of Product Management at SparkCognition, offered, “An initiative like this is exciting for the field of AI. Not only will it enable research teams to push the state of what is possible in intelligent systems, but it also seeks to expand the footprint of AI beyond the current industries where it is used to create value today.”

The college plans to start enrollment for the 2019 fall semester. Two-thirds of the funds for the college have already been raised, bolstered by a $350 million gift from Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of investment firm, Blackstone. It will initially be housed in existing buildings on the MIT campus, but is set to move into its own space by 2022.

As the share of jobs requiring artificial intelligence skills has grown 4.5 times since 2013, and AI is set to generate 2.3 million jobs by 2020, the education of the next generation of data scientists and computer engineers is becoming increasingly important. Schools around the nation, such as Michigan State University, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Rhode Island, and now MIT, aim to provide students with an education on emerging technologies and create a more productive future in the age of AI.

In his book The Sentient Machine, SparkCognition’s own Founder and CEO Amir Husain notes that to thrive in the age of AI, “we need to train and educate our leaders—young and old—to think in different ways and be comfortable in these upcoming environments of fast moving decision-making.” Society is evolving, and our education needs to evolve with it. We’re glad to see major educational institutions taking this need to heart.


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