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By Rich Palmer • October 18, 2018

Tech Perspective: MIT's $1 Billion Commitment to Artificial Intelligence is Validation

MIT just committed $1 billion to create a new college, the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, focused on teaching and researching artificial intelligence (AI). MIT notes this is the "single largest investment in computing and AI by an American academic institution, and will help position the United States to lead the world in preparing for the rapid evolution of computing and AI."

From my perspective as the co-founder of an AI company and a CTO – this news is validation. For years, I've heard feedback from those burned by buying into virtual reality, augmented reality, drones and more being touted as "the future" – ultimately causing them to doubt the opportunity within AI. MIT's announcement changes this by validating the founding hypothesis of Gravyty, that AI is truly the driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Without hesitation I've always said that AI is bigger than the web, mobile and the "digital disruption" we've all seen in our lifetimes. As a result of MIT's news, I'm confident that more will believe me when I continue saying it. Here's why:

  1. The work of universities has always been, and will continue to be, critical for the development of AI. International government AI funding is currently outpacing domestic efforts. Now that the private sector is making meaningful bets on AI, we're seeing the results of those who worked through the "AI Winter" at local universities to keep the discipline alive and produce useful research.
  2. The advancement of AI faces some very real challenges that require thoughtful research and frameworks to address. Meaningful debates happen on campuses, which will hopefully lead to discussions around ethics and biases at the beginning stages of an academic exploration. The sooner we incorporate these debates into projects, the better the outcome.
  3. Modern AI is a relatively young academic field. Professors and students are being courted early in their careers. Having one of our nation's most prolific academic institutions create structure around the field of study will help train future generations of practitioners and researchers. And, as a company based in Massachusetts, it does not hurt that this institution is in our own backyard.
  4. Let me get nerdy for a second. If you look at an AI project like you would a math function, then (use case + ample data + meaningful algorithm) = success. In this equation, AI as a field can only benefit from MIT's structured cross-disciplinary approach. I expect the yield to be AI applications across a broad range of highly impactful use cases – in fields we never imagined.

Where are you in your understanding for AI and how it will change the future of work? See how Westmont College is using AI to further the college's ambitious mission here.