science

MIT unveils new $1 bn college for artificial intelligence


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced plans to create a new college for the development of artificial intelligence.  

An initial $1 billion (£760 million) commitment for the program focusing on ‘responsible and ethical’ uses of the emerging technology.

The university said it would add 50 new faculty members and create an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields.

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced plans to create a new college for the development of artificial intelligence. An initial $1 billion (£760 million) commitment for the program focusing on 'responsible and ethical' uses of the emerging technology (stock)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced plans to create a new college for the development of artificial intelligence. An initial $1 billion (£760 million) commitment for the program focusing on ‘responsible and ethical’ uses of the emerging technology (stock)

A large part of the new funds will come from a gift from Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and co-founder of financial giant Blackstone, after whom the new college will be named.

‘As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to help make sure it does so for the good of all,’ said MIT President Rafael Reif.

An MIT statement said the initiative represents the single largest investment in computing and AI by an American academic institution.

The initiative comes amid growing concerns about the impacts of artificial intelligence on global institutions, and fears that China is overtaking the United States in this field.

‘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 said.

‘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.’

The new college is slated to open in September 2019, with a new building scheduled to be completed in 2022.

The university said it would add 50 new faculty members and create an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields (stock image) 

The university said it would add 50 new faculty members and create an interdisciplinary hub for work in computer science, AI, data science, and related fields (stock image) 

The news comes after it was announced that working alongside robots will be part of a new university course aimed at students entering careers as carers, therapists and social workers.

The university programme is designed to help people get comfortable working with ‘social robots’ that will be their colleagues in the future, researchers say.

A recent survey found that almost 40 per cent of people are afraid that robots will steal their jobs. 

Scientists from Sligo Institute of Technology in Ireland are testing a ‘Paro’ robot seal that reacts to petting and conversation.

‘There is growing evidence that the emotional intelligence possessed by social robots in the future will enable them to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people in society’, said Dr John Pender from Sligo Institute of Technology.

Scientists say the technology to make ‘social robots’ has been around for decades. 

However, lots of people are uncomfortable about the idea of working with them.

HOW DOES ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE LEARN?

AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn.

ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information – including speech, text data, or visual images – and are the basis for a large number of the developments in AI over recent years.

Conventional AI uses input to ‘teach’ an algorithm about a particular subject by feeding it massive amounts of information.   

AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn. ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information - including speech, text data, or visual images

AI systems rely on artificial neural networks (ANNs), which try to simulate the way the brain works in order to learn. ANNs can be trained to recognise patterns in information – including speech, text data, or visual images

Practical applications include Google’s language translation services, Facebook’s facial recognition software and Snapchat’s image altering live filters.

The process of inputting this data can be extremely time consuming, and is limited to one type of knowledge. 

A new breed of ANNs called Adversarial Neural Networks pits the wits of two AI bots against each other, which allows them to learn from each other. 

This approach is designed to speed up the process of learning, as well as refining the output created by AI systems. 



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