IBM is officially partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to run an artificial intelligence (AI) research lab. This Watson-branded joint MIT-IBM AI research initiative — a partnership of acronyms — will be funded through a 10-year, $240 million investment from IBM and will be co-located at IBM's Research Lab in Cambridge and at the MIT campus.

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According to an IBM press release, the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab will be one the largest long-term AI collaborations between a university and a member of the tech industry.

Its goal is to enable more than 100 scientists, professors, and students to pursue research focused on such areas as the development of AI algorithms that could expand machine learning capabilities, the improvement of AI hardware, the exploration of AI's economic and societal benefits, and the identification of AI applications in key industries.

Much-Needed Help

The team at IBM knows that despite all the recent attention given to what AI can do, there's still so much that it can't.

“The field of artificial intelligence has experienced incredible growth and progress over the past decade," IBM's senior VP for Cognitive Solutions and Research John Kelly III said in the press release. "Yet today’s AI systems, as remarkable as they are, will require new innovations to tackle increasingly difficult real-world problems to improve our work and lives."

IBM and MIT want to work together on those innovations, and their partnership might be exactly what's needed to put AI's promise to use in the real world. IBM has already illustrated the potential for their Watson AI to improve healthcare, and with MIT's help, they may be able to take the technology even further in that field and so many others.

“True breakthroughs are often the result of fresh thinking inspired by new kinds of research teams," asserted MIT President L. Rafael Reif in the IBM press release. "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.”

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