A message from MIT President L. Rafael Reif
We are setting out to answer two big questions: How does human intelligence work, in engineering terms? And how can we use that deep grasp of human intelligence to build wiser and more useful machines, to the benefit of society? Drawing on MIT’s deep strengths and signature values, culture, and history, the MIT Quest for Intelligence promises to make important contributions to understanding the nature of intelligence, and to harnessing it to make a better world. This is our quest. Sixty years ago, at MIT and elsewhere, big minds lit the fuse on a big question: What is intelligence, and how does it work? The result was an explosion of new fields — artificial intelligence, cognitive science, neuroscience, linguistics, and more. They all took off at MIT and have produced remarkable offshoots, from computational neuroscience, to neural nets, to empathetic robots. And today, by tapping the united strength of these and other interlocking fields and capitalizing on what they can teach each other, we seek to answer the deepest questions about intelligence — and to deliver transformative new gifts for humankind. Some of these advances may be foundational in nature, involving new insight into human intelligence, and new methods to allow machines to learn effectively. Others may be practical tools for use in a wide array of research endeavors, such as disease diagnosis, drug discovery, materials and manufacturing design, automated systems, synthetic biology, and finance. Along with developing and advancing the technologies of intelligence, The Quest researchers will also investigate the societal and ethical implications of advanced analytical and predictive tools. There are already active projects and groups at the Institute investigating autonomous systems, media and information quality, labor markets and the work of the future, innovation and the digital economy, and the role of AI in the legal system. In all its activities, the MIT Quest for Intelligence is intended to take advantage of — and strengthen — the Institute’s culture of collaboration. The MIT Quest will connect and amplify existing excellence across labs and centers already engaged in intelligence research. Join our quest.