IBM, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has announced the foundation of the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab, a venture that IBM intends to fund with up to $240 million over the next 10 years. 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.

MIT President L. Rafael Reif told the Associated Press that the new AI lab builds on a long-standing research relationship between IBM and the institution. He also said in an MIT press release that “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.”

IBM and MIT see four key pillars for the scope of the work: AI algorithms, the physics of AI, the application of AI to industries and advancing shared prosperity through AI.

The first pillar focuses on developing core algorithmic advancements that enable learning and reasoning, with the goal of broadening the work that AI systems can perform.

The second consists of computational innovations that are tailored specifically to AI and derived from a mastery of physics. This area could include new AI hardware materials and devices supporting future analog computational approaches to AI model training and deployment. This area could also investigate ways quantum computing could optimize or speed up machine learning algorithms and other AI applications. Training AI to perform tasks currently requires a significant amount of time, so finding ways to increase the speed of training would allow AI to be used for more diverse applications.

While the lab will be working on fundamental breakthroughs, it will also look at vertical applications of AI to industries such as health care and cybersecurity. For this third pillar, keeping patient information secured might be one of the first areas researchers will explore.

IBM describes the last pillar as achieving shared prosperity through AI technology. MIT has suggested this last point means exploring the economic and ethical implications of AI on society.

All this should involve 100 AI scientists, professors and students pursuing joint research at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as the IBM Watson Health and the IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square and on the neighboring MIT campus.

For information about employment opportunities with IBM at the new AI Lab, interested parties can visit the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab.

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