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IBM inks huge $240 million partnership with MIT for AI research lab

By David Schwartz
Published: September 12th, 2017

IBM is making big bets on the future of artificial intelligence, and it’s latest move is bringing nearly a quarter billion dollars in funding to MIT research. In a collaboration announced last week, the computer giant will pour $240 million over 10 years into a joint AI research lab in partnership with MIT.

The work of the “MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab” will take place at IBM’s research lab in Cambridge, MA — located in the Kendall Square offices that also house the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters — as well as on MIT’s nearby campus. More than 100 researchers — IBM scientists and MIT professors and students — will collaborate to advance AI algorithms, software, and hardware technologies.

Part of their mission will be to increase the impact AI has on industries like healthcare and cybersecurity. Possible focus areas include medical data privacy and security, healthcare image analysis, and personalized healthcare. Researchers will also “explore the economic and ethical implications of AI on society,” according to a statement announcing the deal.

The lab’s co-chairs are Dario Gil, IBM Research vice president of AI and IBM Q, the company’s commercial quantum computing program; and Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering.

For IBM, the lab is a way to tap into the talent at MIT and spur ideas and technologies that could boost its business. Ever since the company’s “Watson” computer was introduced and created headlines over its capabilities, IBM has applied its “cognitive computing” technology in a range of industries, but that has yet to translate into a significant increase in its business.

For MIT, the new lab signals the storied engineering school’s increased emphasis on entrepreneurship and commercialization. The press release notes that a “distinct objective” of the lab is to encourage faculty and students to create companies to commercialize the AI technogies  they develop.

Source: Xconomy

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