October 24, 2018
Staying true to its original motto of improving education to meet the growing industrialization needs in the US, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT is funding $1 Billion to streamline Artificial Intelligence in different fields of education.
The announcement of this ambitious initiative was made last week when Mr. Schwarzman, CEO at Blackstone, gifted the university $350 million. Now the investment is headed towards the development of the new MIT Stephen A . Schwarzman College of Computing, which is scheduled to start next year in the fall semester.
The goal of the college, as mentioned above, is to include the AI technology in mainstream education. Or as the President of MIT, L. Rafael Reif, puts it, “educate the bilinguals of the future.” By bilinguals, he meant the people who are into non-computational fields such as humanities, chemistry, and biology, yet have skills in modern computing.
Mr. Reif explains that one of the major issues that have kept the mainstream education lagging behind is the tendency of the system to keep isolated academic departments. While it is evident that a more synergized approach in every field will automatically lead to more innovation and improved solutions to the real-life problems, the interdisciplinary programs run by different universities prove inadequate to bring in any concrete outputs.
While this issue has just remained a nagging problem in the past, the wave of the pervasive technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has made its resolution a need of the hour. This is why the new college is set to disregard the traditional methods of hiring and tenure decisions. Instead, it will be run by 50 new faculties that will cross the departmental boundaries. As Martin Schmidt, the provost at MIT says, “We need to rewire how we hire and promote faculty.”
So now, half of the above-mentioned faculty positions will be filled by the scholars from advanced computer science, while the remaining will be chosen from different departments across MIT.
The new college will also change the former approach of including computer science in the curriculum. For example, earlier when aspirants were looking to build AI applications for a Chemistry project, they would have to go with dual-major programs. But now with the courses in this college, names of which have yet not been announced will ‘bake’ computing science into the other subjects’ curriculum, so that the students can better understand the parts of the technologies that are actually linked to their application.
This is definitely not the first time, MIT has made initiatives on including advanced computer technologies in mainstream education. In fact, this isn’t even the first AI-related project that brought global media attention to MIT. Only a few months ago, a research team from the institute has brought about a non-intrusive security technology that can detect anomalies just by recognizing the gait of a person. This of the birthplaces of AI is also one of the first universities to offer dedicated blockchain degree certificates to their Computer Science graduates. Definitely, the long-awaited revolution in education seems just around the corner, and what role MIT plays in it, is what that remains to be seen.
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