IBM will open artificial intelligence lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and says it will invest $240 million over the next decade as the two partners “seek to unlock the potential of AI.”

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The two partners disclosed the research agreement Thursday.

The mission will include advancing the hardware, software and algorithms used for artificial intelligence. It also will tackle some of the economic and ethical implications of intelligent machines and look at its commercial application for industries ranging from health care to cybersecurity.

“True breakthroughs are often the result of fresh thinking inspired by new kinds of research teams,” noted MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “The combined MIT and IBM talent dedicated to this new effort will bring formidable power to a field with staggering potential to advance knowledge and help solve important challenges.”

The lab will be based at the university and IBM’s nearby research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

More than 100 AI scientists from IBM and MIT will operate from the lab along with professors and students at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge. It will be co-located with the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square — and on the neighboring MIT campus.

The lab will be co-chaired by Dario Gil, IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering.

Key points of emphasis include:

  • AI algorithms: Developing advanced algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning. Researchers will create AI systems that move beyond specialized tasks to tackle more complex problems and benefit from robust, continuous learning. Researchers will invent new algorithms that can not only leverage big data when available, but also learn from limited data to augment human intelligence.
  • Physics of AI: Investigating new AI hardware materials, devices, and architectures that will support future analog computational approaches to AI model training and deployment, as well as the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning. The latter involves using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.
  • Application of AI to industries: Given its location in IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square, a global hub of biomedical innovation, the lab will develop new applications of AI for professional use, including fields such as health care and cybersecurity. The collaboration will explore the use of AI in areas such as the security and privacy of medical data, personalization of health care, image analysis, and the optimum treatment paths for specific patients.
  • Advancing shared prosperity through AI: The MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab will explore how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations, and enterprises. The lab will study the economic implications of AI and investigate how AI can improve prosperity and help individuals achieve more in their lives.

“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 John Kelly III, IBM senior vice president for 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.”

IBM operates one of its largest corporate campuses in RTP and employs several thousand people across North Carolina.

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