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article imageIBM and MIT partnering to develop artificial intelligence lab

By Karen Graham     Sep 7, 2017 in Technology
Cambridge - IBM will spend $240 million over 10 years to develop an artificial intelligence research lab with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The partnership will establish the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab at the Cambridge, Mass. academic institution and will be co-chaired by Dario Gil, IBM Research VP of AI and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering.
IBM's investment will allow IBM researchers to work side-by-side with students and faculty at MIT, conducting advanced research with the goal of propelling scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI. The research will focus on four broad areas, including the creation of better hardware to handle complex computations and figuring out applications of AI in specific industries.
John Kelly, the head of IBM Corporation's research and cognitive solutions groups, which includes Watson products, said that while the company has always conducted research into AI, it was decided AI was such a vast field that IBM needed to reach out for talent and ideas, according to Bloomberg.
“The competition is really stiff in both business and academia, so we looked at this situation and spoke together and said, ‘let’s do something big,'" Kelly said in the interview.
The MIT campus (Photo: AboveSummit with Christopher Harting)
The MIT campus (Photo: AboveSummit with Christopher Harting)
Four pillars of the research
One focus area will be in the development of advanced algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning. This includes the development of deep-learning algorithms that can help neural networks move from single-use applications to more generalized performance. New algorithms that not only leverage big data when available but also learn from limited data to augment human intelligence are also being explored and invented.
A second focus of the research will study the intersection between machine learning and quantum computing. AI hardware materials, devices and architectures will also be investigated. Interestingly, this particular area of the research will end up helping to advance both fields, with AI helping to identify and characterize quantum devices and with quantum computers helping to optimize machine learning methodologies, says Engadget.
IBM's Watson Security and Healthcare divisions are located close to the University, and both IBM and MIT have agreed to concentrate on these two industries in their research, exploring 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.
And finally, if is the goal of both partners to work together in exploring how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations and enterprises.
IBM Security instructors at the company’s security business headquarters  simulate cyber attacks i...
IBM Security instructors at the company’s security business headquarters, simulate cyber attacks in the world’s first commercial cyber range at the IBM X-Force Command Center in Cambridge, Mass.
MIT and IBM Watson AI Research Lab
IBM and MIT's strategy in the partnership
IBM's focus is on building a business selling AI software. They need this partnership to pan out because it is still struggling with 21 straight quarters of declining revenue. And even though its Watson sales have not done too badly, it is still hoped that the development of new software will boost consumer interest.
MIT will also be looking for benefits in the partnership. The biggest advantage will be the availability of IBM's vast trove of data. Higher education institutions don't usually have access to the large data sets needed in AI research today, while companies like IBM can either but the data or build up their own data bases in the course of business.
“True breakthroughs are often the result of fresh thinking inspired by new kinds of research teams,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said in a statement. “The combined MIT and IBM talent dedicated to this new effort will bring formidable power to a field with staggering potential to improve standards of living everywhere.”
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