MIT starts college to study Artificial Intelligence ethics

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MIT starts college to study Artificial Intelligence ethics

Rachel Franklin- Staff Writer, Ava Ghasiri- Creative Director

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced its $1 billion plan to create a new college focused on the ethical and societal implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Creating this college is “the largest financial investment in AI by any US academic institution to date,” according to Will Knight’s article in MIT Technology Review’s The Download. The new college will create “50 new faculty positions and numerous fellowships for graduate students,” according to Knight. The school will open next year and move to its own building in 2022.

“Our hope is that this ambitious initiative serves as a clarion call to our government,” said chairman, CEO and co-founder of the multinational asset firm the Blackstone Group, Stephen A. Schwarzman. “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.”

According to the MIT News Office, Schwarzman is continuing his streak of donating significant amounts of money to AI research by donating $350 million to this recent project; his hope is that the money will help further the understanding of ethical implications behind artificial technology. The college is to be named the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, after him.

“I think this is a journey that [we are] just beginning,” said the firm’s president and COO Tony James. “[AI] affects all of our businesses, not just the investment side of our business, but how we do things internally, including processes.”

The school will enable advancements and provide a broad range of knowledge to interested students by integrating computer science with other disciplines, according to the MIT News Office. The college will advance computing as well as teach relevant policy and ethics to better ensure responsibly implemented future technologies created in support of public benefit, according to the MIT News Office. The college’s approach differs from the majority of AI programs because it encourages interdisciplinary education so that the nuances of other fields are not overlooked.

“I truly believe that Artificial Intelligence is the future of computing as we know it,” said CHS junior robotics student Amitai Erfanian. “Artificial Intelligence will eventually become as integral to our daily lives as our cell phones, it’s only a matter of time.”

“AI is getting better and able to work more independently,” according to Forbes Technology Council. They expect to see accelerated improvements in patient health outcomes, voice assistants, retail, online chat and communication in the upcoming year.

Competing schools such as Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University share similar ideas to those of MIT’s AI Program. Carnegie Mellon also uses an interdisciplinary education strategy and Stanford also applies technology to a business approach, but so far, only MIT has taken such a large-scale action to focus on ethical implications of modern technology in the curriculum. MIT has made this curriculum change a priority, even setting up a university-wide effort, the MIT Intelligence Quest, earlier this year to promote interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers working on artificial intelligence.

“The new MIT college may help bridge the talent gap when it comes to the AI hiring pipeline,” according to Brittany Shoot’s article in Fortune. “In May 2017, it was expected that U.S. firms would spend upwards of $650 million on hiring for AI-related jobs this year alone.”

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