IBM and MIT announce $240m AI lab for advance research in cybersecurity, quantum computing and more

IBM and MIT are partnering to establish a new artificial intelligence research lab in Cambridge.Sean Gallup/Getty Images

IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced Thursday a new 10-year, $240m (£184m) partnership agreement to establish a new joint artificial intelligence lab. Described as one of the largest long-term university-industry AI collaborations to date, the initiative will bring together more than 100 AI experts, professors and students to pursue research at the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The new 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. Lab researchers will work at the MIT campus as well as IBM's Watson Health and Security facilities nearby.

Big Blue said it would invest $240m into the lab that will support research from both IBM and MIT scientists and encourages ideas from both sides to submit their proposals for AI research in several areas, from healthcare to quantum computing.

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These include advanced AI algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning, studying the intersection between machine learning and quantum computing, new applications for AI in healthcare and cybersecurity as well as the economic and societal implications of AI to "advance shared prosperity."

"One of the goals is to build machine learning and AI systems that excel at both narrow tasks and the human skills of discovery and explanation," Chandrakasan said. "In terms of applications, there are some particular targets we have in mind, including being able to detect cancer (e.g., by using AI with imaging in radiology to automatically detect breast cancer) well before we do now."

The lab will also encourage MIT faculty and students to launch their own companies focused on commercialising AI inventions and technologies developed in house.

"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," MIT said in a release. "Both MIT and IBM have been pioneers in artificial intelligence research, and the new AI lab builds on a decades-long research relationship between the two."

The establishment of the new joint lab also builds on the joint multi-year collaboration announced by IBM and MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences last September that aimed to create AI that can better understand sight and sound the way humans do.

"The field of artificial intelligence has experienced incredible growth and progress over the past decade," John Kelly III, IBM's senior vice president of Cognitive Solutions and Research, said. "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.

"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."

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