​IBM and MIT to launch $240m Watson Artificial Intelligence Lab

The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab will focus on furthering artificial intelligence-based research in areas such as healthcare and cybersecurity.

IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have joined forces to establish an MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab in Cambridge that will pursue research in artificial intelligence (AI) with a focus on healthcare and cybersecurity, as well as on commercialising AI technologies born out of the lab.

Touted as one of the largest university-industry AI collaborations and investments, the 10-year, $240 million initiative is expected to hire and bring together over 100 AI-focused scientists, professors, and students.

In addition to IBM's plan to commercialise technologies developed within the lab, the pair will encourage MIT faculty and students to launch new companies that will focus on commercialising inventions and technologies that are developed at the lab.

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

"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."

The establishment of the Watson AI Lab builds on the joint research partnership the pair announced in September last year that focuses on developing AI to understand audio and visual data the way people do.

The multi-year collaboration with MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences brought together brain, cognitive, and computer scientists to conduct research in the field formally known as the unsupervised machine understanding of audio-visual streams of data.

In addition, IBM and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard recently established a five-year, $50 million research collaboration on AI and Genomics.

The new Watson AI 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. Those participating in the lab will have access to pursue joint research at the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and on the neighbouring MIT campus.

In a statement, IBM detailed plans to issue a call for proposals from MIT students and IBM scientists, asking for ideas on joint research topics to help define and create new AI technologies in areas such as AI algorithms; the physics of AI; the application of AI within the cybersecurity and healthcare industries; and advancing shared prosperity through AI, exploring how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations, and enterprises.

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