If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
From self-driving cars to the internet of things, artificial intelligence (AI) has reached new levels of sophistication in recent years. With that in mind, this week MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) launched an industry collaboration focused on using machine learning to create functional human-like systems. Nearly 40 senior researchers will participate in the new "SystemsThatLearn@CSAIL" (STL) initiative alongside a range of organizations that include founding members BT, Microsoft, Nokia Bell Labs, Salesforce, and Schlumberger. Member companies will work with CSAIL scientists to suggest new lines of research and develop real-world applications. "Developing capabilities in AI and machine learning are key to the future of fields like finance, energy, manufacturing, and health care," says STL Executive Director Lori Glover.
In an effort to solve pressing issues faced by the engineering industry and by the world more broadly, researchers from across MIT joined forces with representatives from Parsons Corporation, a technology-driven engineering services firm, for a day of collaboration. The Infrastructure, Smart Cities and Transportation Workshop, co-hosted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and Parsons, was held on March 8. The event opened doors to future opportunities for MIT researchers and members of the engineering industry to work together. "As students we can easily get caught up in the weeds of our technical research, so we find it rewarding to hear from experts who can help us connect the theory of our research with applications within and outside of academia. Today is the perfect example of that connection," said graduate student Adam Rosenfield on behalf of the MIT Transportation Student Group, a student society of the Interdepartmental Program in Transportation.
The new space race is on. Since the early 2000s, multiple private companies -- such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin -- have been developing and deploying rockets and other technologies to enable space exploration, a sector historically controlled and funded by the federal government. At this weekend's New Space Age Conference, private space industry entrepreneurs and innovators descended on MIT's campus to showcase their novel -- and at times science-fiction-like -- commercial ideas and innovations that could help humanity explore the stars and planets, and benefit people here on Earth. Conference speakers enthusiastically highlighted how far the private space industry has come but also emphasized how far we've yet to go -- with some ideas, such as asteroid mining or crewed Mars missions, still many years and billions of dollars away. Still, with promise of reaching new horizons in space exploration, private space companies have seen an influx of funding in recent years, according to Barret Schlegelmilch, president of the student-run MIT Sloan Astropreneurship and Space Industry Club, which hosted the conference.
Growing up in Pasadena, California, in JPL's backyard, Reeves developed a love of all things outer space, and the lab was a regular destination for school field trips. Even as a child, Reeves, now an MIT senior, knew she wanted to work in the space industry: "I realized that the engineers at JPL really enable astrophysicists to make their discoveries, so that was what I wanted to be a part of, expanding that knowledge." Her love of space was nurtured at home, too. "My dad had a telescope when we were growing up. I loved science fiction books and movies.
The report, "Convergence: The Future of Health," was co-chaired by Tyler Jacks, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology and director of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research; Susan Hockfield, noted neuroscientist and president emerita of MIT; and Phillip Sharp, Institute Professor at MIT and Nobel laureate, and will be presented at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington on June 24. Accordingly, the report's authors call for increasing NIH funding for convergence research to at least 20 percent of the agency's budget. And the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, launched earlier this year to accelerate research to develop cancer vaccines and early detection methods and genomic tumor analysis, will also operate largely using convergence tools and approaches. As a concrete next step, the report's authors recommend establishing an interagency working group on convergence with participation from NIH, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies involved in funding scientific research, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Energy.