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IBM, MIT to pursue joint research in artificial intelligence

IBM recently announced that it will make a 10-year, $240 million investment to create the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab in partnership with MIT. The lab will carry out fundamental artificial intelligence (AI) research and seek to propel scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI. The collaboration aims to advance AI hardware, software and algorithms related to deep learning and other areas, increase AI’s impact on industries such as healthcare and cybersecurity, and explore the economic and ethical implications of AI on society. IBM’s $240 million investment in the lab will support research by IBM and MIT scientists.

The new lab will be one of the largest long-term university-industry AI collaborations to date, mobilizing the talent of more than 100 AI scientists, professors and students to pursue joint research at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge – co-located with the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square, in Cambridge, Mass.

For information about employment opportunities with IBM at the new AI Lab, visit

The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, Dario Gil, and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. IBM and MIT plan to issue a call for proposals to MIT researchers and IBM scientists to submit their ideas for joint research to push the boundaries in AI science and technology in several areas, including:

AI algorithms: Developing advanced algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning. Researchers will create AI systems that move beyond specialized tasks to tackle more complex problems, and benefit from robust, continuous learning. Researchers will invent new algorithms that can not only leverage big data when available, but also learn from limited data to augment human intelligence.

Physics of AI: Investigating new AI hardware materials, devices and architectures that will support future analog computational approaches to AI model training and deployment, as well as the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning. The latter involves using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and also researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.

Application of AI to industries: Given its location in IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters and Kendall Square, a global hub of biomedical innovation, the lab will develop new applications of AI for professional use, including fields such as healthcare and cybersecurity. The collaboration will explore the use of AI in areas such as the security and privacy of medical data, personalization of healthcare, image analysis and the optimum treatment paths for specific patients.

Advancing shared prosperity through AI: The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab will explore how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations and enterprises. The lab will study the economic implications of AI and investigate how AI can improve prosperity and help individuals achieve more in their lives.

In addition to IBM’s plan to produce innovations that advance the frontiers of AI, a distinct objective of the new lab is to encourage MIT faculty and students to launch companies that will focus on commercializing AI inventions and technologies that are developed at the lab. The lab’s scientists also will publish their work, contribute to the release of open source material and foster an adherence to the ethical application of AI.

“The field of artificial intelligence has experienced incredible growth and progress over the past decade. Yet today’s AI systems, as remarkable as they are, will require new innovations to tackle increasingly difficult real-world problems to improve our work and lives,” says Dr. John Kelly III, IBM senior vice president, Cognitive Solutions and Research. “The extremely broad and deep technical capabilities and talent at MIT and IBM are unmatched, and will lead the field of AI for at least the next decade.”

“I am delighted by this new collaboration,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “True breakthroughs are often the result of fresh thinking inspired by new kinds of research teams. The combined MIT and IBM talent dedicated to this new effort will bring formidable power to a field with staggering potential to advance knowledge and help solve important challenges.”

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