Aspiring computer science scholars now have a new dream facility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT announced a $1 billion initiative to study computing, AI, and the ethics surrounding those fields -- culminating in a new College of Computing being developed.
According to the university, the new Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing will bring 50 new faculty positions. That will double the staff of MIT’s computing and AI departments. MIT also plans on making the AI and computing resources available to every type of industry and discipline.
University officials hope the new investment can set it up to be an international voice in responsible and ethical AI development.
“As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to help make sure it does so for the good of all,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “In keeping with the scope of this challenge, we are reshaping MIT. The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing will constitute both a global center for computing research and education, and an intellectual foundry for powerful new AI tools."
Why MIT for the donation
Stephen A Schwartzman -- the donor and the man behind the new building -- was the CEO and founder of Blackstone investment firms. Schwartzman has a history of investing in MIT and its ability to change the direction of an industry.
"Just as important, the College will equip students and researchers in any discipline to use computing and AI to advance their disciplines and vice-versa, as well as to think critically about the human impact of their work," President Reif said. "With uncommon insight and generosity, Mr. Schwarzman is enabling a bold agenda that will lead to a better world. I am deeply grateful for his commitment to our shared vision.”
Already this year, Schwartzman gave $5 million to the Harvard Business School to support writing new case studies. According to the CEO, it's worth his investment.
“There is no more important opportunity or challenge facing our nation than to responsibly harness the power of artificial intelligence so that we remain competitive globally and achieve breakthroughs that will improve our entire society,” Schwarzman said. “We face fundamental questions about how to ensure that technological advancements benefit all — especially those most vulnerable to the radical changes AI will inevitably bring to the nature of the workforce. MIT’s initiative will help America solve these challenges and continue to lead on computing and AI throughout the 21st century and beyond.”
“As one of the world leaders in technological innovation, MIT has the right expertise and the right values to serve as the ‘true north’ of AI in pursuit of the answers we urgently need,” Mr. Schwarzman added. “With the ability to bring together the best minds in AI research, development, and ethics, higher education is uniquely situated to be the incubator for solving these challenges in ways the private and public sectors cannot."
New priority, new college, new building
The Schwarzman College of Computing will be the most significant amount of structural additions to the university since the 1950s. It's scheduled to open next September, and construction is to be completed by 2022.
"Our hope is that this ambitious initiative serves as a clarion call to our government that 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,” Schwartzman said.