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MIT’s big brains will study brains to build better brains

MIT’s big brains will study brains to build better brains
[Photo: Flickr user _DJ_]

The advancement that propelled artificial intelligence forward was to make it work more like human intelligence, through the use of neural networks. And deeper understanding of squishy brains could offer a lot more lessons for improving silicon brains, say MIT researchers. That’s the concept behind a new project called the MIT Intelligence Quest, which the university announced today.

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Intriguing is that it brings together researchers who study both human intelligence and artificial intelligence. The hope is that better understanding both of them will help develop new algorithms and techniques that can be used broadly. The mandate encompasses pretty much everything, including “disease diagnosis, drug discovery, materials and manufacturing design, automated systems, synthetic biology, and finance,” per a statement from the university. As per many big AI initiatives, curing cancer is also on the list of goals.

Rather than a separate institute, Intelligence Quest will be a collaboration of researchers from across the university, such as the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines. It also includes not-so-usual suspects, such as the Sloan School of Management and the School of Architecture and Planning. This all builds on MIT’s collaboration with IBM Watson, announced in September 2017, says the university. IBM is known for overhyping and overpromising, especially in medicine. What’s unclear is whether an over-reliance on Watson-based technologies will close off others that might be better for some circumstances.

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