MIT will create a new college with courses combining AI, machine learning, and data science with other academic disciplines. With $1 billion in funding, this will be the largest financial investment in AI by any US academic institution.
The new college will have 50 new faculty positions and numerous fellowships for graduate students. The school will open next September, starting initially in other buildings until around 2022, when the new college is slated to get its own space.
Rafael Reif, the president of MIT, said that the new approach to college education was necessary due to the way computing and AI were “reshaping the world.” With big data already causing major swings in political views, and machine learning starting to affect everything from hiring to criminal sentencing, the new college will encourage students and researchers to think about the potential impact of computing and AI on the world.
Reif told The New York Times that the goal of the new college was to “educate the bilinguals of the future.” He defined bilinguals as people in fields like biology, chemistry, and political science who were also skilled in modern computing techniques applied to those subjects of study.
Two-thirds of the funds for the college have already been raised. Of the $1 billion funding required for the college, $350 million has come from Stephen A. Schwarzman, the CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, a private equity firm. “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.” Schwarzman said.
MIT has been making several major commitments to AI over the last few years. Earlier this year, the university announced a program called Quest for Intelligence– an initiative aiming to make breakthroughs in AI by bringing together neuroscience, cognitive science and computer science researchers.