The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said this week it has committed $1 billion to the study of computing and artificial intelligence (AI), establishing a College of Computing that will bring the power of AI and related technologies to other fields of study.
The initiative shines a light on the world-changing power of computing and AI, and marks the most significant structural change to MIT since the early 1950s, school spokespeople said.
A $350 million gift from philanthropist and investor Stephen A. Schwarzman establishes the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, which will be located in a new building on MIT's campus. The college is scheduled to open in September 2019, with construction of the building to be completed in 2022.
"As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to help make sure it does so for the good of all," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement announcing the initiative. "In keeping with the scope of this challenge, we are reshaping MIT. 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 college creates 50 new faculty positions: 25 in the College of Computing and 25 more joint positions with other departments. This nearly doubles MIT's academic capabilities in computing and AI, school spokespeople said.
On top of Schwarzman's gift, MIT has raised $300 million to support the project, giving it $650 million of the $1 billion required for the College.
MIT's initiative marks a structural change not seen since the 1950s, when it established schools for management and for the humanities and social sciences. It also marks a bold move forward in collaborative research already underway at MIT, said Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM, a partner in the school's AI research.
"The establishment of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing is an unprecedented investment in the promise of this technology," Rometty said in a statement. "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."