MIT reveal plans to build AI-focused college by 2022

Set to be named Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing after the chairman of the Blackstone Group and a lead investor, the project is estimated to be worth $1 billion.

While Schwarzman donated $350m to the cause, MIT has raised an additional $300m, with further funding “being actively pursued by MIT’s senior administration”.

Planned to act as a data and computer science hub, MIT is aiming to use the college as an AI education vessel that is open to all students who wish to study the subject, allowing for interdisciplinary studies that aren’t traditionally possible.

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Lead investor Schwarzman has also donated to Harvard University’s efforts to push AI as part of the university’s curriculum.

This could be seen as a potential step forward for the United States in their race for global supremacy within the realm of AI.

“Academia plays a very important role in AI innovation,” explained Dr Greg Benson, Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco and Chief Scientist at SnapLogic. “Naturally, academia is where a lot of the theoretical and experimental work has been done in AI over the years.

“However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle, and it’s the interaction between academia and industry which is really fuelling AI innovation and the explosion of AI in both consumer and enterprise products we’re seeing today.”

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“Let’s not run before we can walk.”

Although AI seems to be an important matter in regards to education among many experts, global data literacy lead at software company Qlik Jordan Morrow believes that educators must ensure that students are data literate before overseeing their progress in working with the latest technologies.

“Our recent Global Data Literacy Index found that organisations with higher levels of data literacy are associated with 3-5% greater enterprise value,” Morrow explained. “It is therefore inevitable that those who are data literate when they leave education will be better set up for success in the future workplace.

“We found in our research that businesses have a real appetite to hire data literate workers, with 63% of large businesses planning on increasing their number of data literate employees.

“However, worryingly, our research also showed that nearly 80% of British 16-24-year-olds are hampered by data illiteracy. This not only prevents them from thriving in their own job roles but stifles their ability to drive much-needed data-led cultural change across the business.”

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More access to AI skills needed

Additionally, the barrier to entry into “scarce and expensive” AI education needs to be lowered, according to CEO and founder of Peltarion, Luka Crnkovic-Friis.

“It’s no secret that AI faces a significant skills deficit,” Crnkovic-Friis said. “By 2020, IBM predicts that 700,000 more data scientists will be needed in the US alone.

“Education and engagement are important, but we need to find more ways to empower people and lower the barrier to entry that currently exists to operationalise AI.”

With universities such as MIT increasing AI education accessibility, however, CTO’s across the world will hope that the realm of AI progresses further within the education sector for the sake of prospective talent pools to examine and potentially employ in the future.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.